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Russia foreign minister holds Syria talks in Israel

The relationship between Russia and Israel have become increasingly close (Getty)

Date of publication: 23 July, 2018

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The Russian Foreign Minister met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss Iran and Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday for talks on Iran and the conflict in neighbouring Syria, the premier's office said.

The meeting was requested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said earlier in the day.

Netanyahu and Putin have held a number of discussions in recent months on the Syrian conflict and Iran's military presence there, which Israel opposes.

The Monday meeting, attended by the Russian and Israeli military chiefs and Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, dealt with "Iran and the situation in Syria", a statement from Netanyahu's office read.

"The link between us is extraordinarily important and it exists, as you have seen, in the direct meetings between myself and President Putin and between our staffs," Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.

"I appreciated the words that were spoken by President Putin together with President Trump regarding the security of Israel during the recent summit," Netanyahu said, in remarks relayed by his office.

The Russian foreign ministry said the meeting also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and "the goal of ending the anti-terrorist operation in southern Syria, and ensuring security along the Israeli border".

Iran is Israel's arch-enemy and Netanyahu has pledged to prevent it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

Both Tehran and Moscow are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.

On June 19, Syrian government forces launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake Daraa and Quneitra provinces in the country's south, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Regime forces have now regained control of most of the two provinces through a combination of deadly bombardment and Moscow-brokered surrender deals.

The advance has pushed hundreds of thousands to flee southward, with Israel enabling over 400 rescue workers and family members to cross through its territory into Jordan on Sunday for resettlement in Western countries.

Israel is eager to obtain guarantees that Iranian forces and allied groups, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, are kept away from the Golan.

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