Assad and Medvedev
A senior Syrian source has denied recent reports that his country agreed to deploy a Russian Iskandar missile system on its territory, the official SANA news agency reported Friday.
The source, who claimed the reports were false, said that the issue was not even discussed this week in talks held between Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
The Russia Today TV channel reported Thursday that Assad offered to place Russian missiles in Syria in response to the deployment of American missiles in Poland.
'Assad looked to purchase arms from Russia even before his current trip to Russia and still stands behind his plan to see peace process through,' Israeli officials says, adding 'Olmert told Medvedev selling advanced weapons to Syria would disrupt balance in Middle East'
According to the report, Assad assumed that placing the missiles on Syrian territory would be an appropriate response to the deployment of US missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Following the reports and the Syrian plan to purchase Russian weapons, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that "the defense establishment is analyzing the ramifications of Assad's visit to Russia, with an emphasis on the intentions to purchase advanced weaponry, aimed at upgrading the Syrian army's capabilities."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to leave for Moscow at the beginning of September in a bid to convince the Russian president to refrain from selling modern weapons to Syria.
Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday that in a conversation between Olmert and Medvedev, the prime minister said that the Syrians should focus on their channel of dialogue with Israel in order to advance towards a peace agreement, rather than spend billions of dollars on weapons which the Jewish state would eventually be forced to destroy.