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Netanyahu to meet Putin

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will today meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, their third meeting in six months.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office said Netanyahu will stress to Putin that Israel will not accept a military entrenchment of Iran or of its proxies anywhere in Syria. Israel also wants to ensure that Syria respects the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement on the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will attend the World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia this evening as a guest of President Putin.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman toured the Syrian border area of the Golan Heights yesterday and in comments to media he warned the Assad regime not to establish a military presence in the buffer zone along the Israeli border. Lieberman said: “Any entry by Syrian troops into the buffer zone, any Syrian soldier who is situated in the buffer zone, is risking his life. Regarding the other zones, there too we will insist on every minute detail regarding the composition and size of the troops, in keeping with that same agreement from 1974. Another thing that we’ve identified is players who are identified with the axis forces, and their effort, under the cover of the regime, to establish a terrorist infrastructure here on the Syrian Golan Heights,” he added.

Lieberman said that “the very Iranian presence in Syria is, from our perspective, unreasonable” and that Israel “will act against any Iranian entrenchment in Syria. The moment we identify an Iranian presence we act immediately, and that is how things will continue to be as well”.

The comments come a week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was “absolutely unrealistic” for Iran to abandon its interests in Syria. Last month Lavrov had insisted that “we have agreements on the southwestern de-escalation zone, these agreements have been reached between Russia, the United States and Jordan. Israel was informed about them as we were working on them. They [agreements] stipulate that this de-escalation zone should consolidate stability, while all non-Syrian forces must be withdrawn from this area. And I think that this should happen as soon as possible”.