Photo: AP
Assad - Speed up arms sales
Photo: AP
Medvedev - To cut off ties to NATO?
Photo: AP

Assad wants Russia to cut ties to West

Syrian president to meet Russian counterpart later on Thursday, will try to use growing tensions with West over war in Caucasus to promote military cooperation between Moscow, Damascus

Syrian President Bashar Assad is keen to see a wedge driven between Russia and the West over the conflict in Georgia, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Thursday.


The Arabic-language paper said Assad hopes to see Moscow cease its cooperation with NATO-allied states.


The Syrian president granted a number of interviews on the eve of his visit to the Russian capital, several to local media. He is quoted as saying that Israeli arms sales to the Georgian army should prompt the Kremlin to strengthen the military alliance between Russia and Syria.


Assad, who arrived at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday evening accompanied by his foreign affairs minister, Walid Muallem, is expected to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.


Ahead of the visit, Assad told Russian daily 'Kommersant' that the talks would indeed center on Syria's defense ties with Moscow, adding that he believed it crucial to accelerate the rate of weapons purchases. "Moreover, the West and Israel continue to put pressure on Russia," he said.


Russian analysts say the pressure exerted by the US and Israel has delayed Moscow's intentions to sell Damascus the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft system, similar to the Patriot missiles.


One analyst postulated that Assad would likely use the recent defense agreement between the US and Poland as an argument to convince the Russians.


פרסום ראשון: 08.21.08, 10:43
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