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Published: Saturday, 5/11/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Netanyahu, Putin could meet as early as this week to talk Syria

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

JERUSALEM — Amid growing concern in Israel and the West that Russia may soon deliver a sophisticated air defense system to Syria, Israeli and Russian officials confirmed today that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet with President Vladimir V. Putin, as early as this week.

An Israeli official said that Netanyahu had spoken with Putin by telephone last week, while the Israeli prime minister was visiting China, and the two agreed to meet in Moscow.

The discussions are expected to focus on Russia’s sale to Syria of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries, which could limit the ability of the United States and other nations to fly over Syrian airspace. They could also complicate airstrikes like the two in Syria this month, believed to have been carried out by Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Israel had provided the U.S. with intelligence that Syria had already begun making payments on a 2010 contract with Russia to purchase four S-300 batteries, with 144 missiles, and that the first deliveries were expected to be made this summer.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain met with Putin on Friday, three days after the Russian president held talks with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Russian’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters on Friday that Moscow was fulfilling contracts with Syria, saying, “Russia has sold and signed contracts a long time ago, and is completing supplies of the equipment, which is anti-aircraft systems,” according to Agence France-Presse.

One Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said that providing S-300 systems to “a tottering regime,” referring to the Syrian government, was perilous and would give it “very extensive capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean.”



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