MiG plane (Archives)
Photo: AP
Syria's Assad
Photo: AFP

Syria says MiG deal with Russia still on

Damascus says report that Moscow wants to call off sale of eight advanced planes 'part of attempts to undermine friendly relations between Syria and Russia'

Syria denied on Sunday a Russian media report that Moscow no longer wants to sell it eight advanced MiG-31 planes because of pressure from Israel.


"This is part of attempts to undermine the friendly relations and cooperation between Syria and Russia," an official Syrian statement said.


The statement was issued as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the Syrian capital and met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Kommersant newspaper quoted an unidentified person close to Russia's state arms exporter as saying that the $500-million deal, agreed to in 2007, was halted after Israel protested.


The paper quoted another source in an unidentified Russian ministry as saying the contract had been halted because Syria could not come up with the money to pay for the fighters.


Syria, which has adhered to a ceasefire with Israel on the Golan Heights since 1974, has been trying to upgrade its military in the last several years.


The official SANA news agency reported that during his meeting with Assad, Lavrov spoke of Russia's plan to host an international conference on the Middle East and stressed Russia's desire to help achieve a comprehensive peace in the region based on the relevant international resolutions.


Assad was quoted by the new agency as telling Lavrov that prior to the conference organizers must assess Israel's "commitment to the principles of a just and comprehensive peace agreement."


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office expressed its "deep disappointment" over Russia's intention to pursue relations with Hamas, calling the decision "puzzling."


Lavrov met with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal on Saturday, and followed it with a statement saying Moscow's relations with the Islamist group war "necessary."


פרסום ראשון: 05.24.09, 16:38
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