Netanyahu to meet Putin, with Iran role on agenda
REUTERS photoIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 9 to voice opposition to what the Israeli leader charged were Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.
“In the framework of a [future peace agreement] or without one, Iran is attempting to base itself permanently in Syria - either through a military presence on the ground or a naval presence - and also through a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in public remarks on March 5.
“I will express to President Putin Israel’s vigorous opposition to this possibility,” he said.
Iran has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him.
Russia, also Assad’s ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria’s future. In Geneva on March 3, the first U.N.-led Syria peace talks in a year ended without a breakthrough. Israeli leaders have pointed to Tehran’s steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah.