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SA-300 missile
Photo: AFP
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu in China
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Netanyahu talks to Obama for 1st time since visit
Currently on a visit to China, prime minister holds phone conversation with US president to discuss regional security. Meanwhile, WSJ reports Israel warned US about Russia-Syria arms deal

WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Barack Obama on Wednesday night, for the first time since the latter's visit in Israel, Netanyahu's office said.

 

"Tonight I spoke to President Obama after having spoken to Chinese leaders and President Putin discussing a wide range of regional and international issues," the statement said.

 

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Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had warned the US that a Russian deal is imminent to sell advanced ground-to-air missile systems to Syria.


( צילום: אבי אוחיון לע"מ)

Benajmin and Sara Netanyahu tour Great Wall of China (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)

 

US officials said on Wednesday that they are analyzing the information Israel provided about the suspected sale of S-300 missile batteries to Syria, but wouldn't comment on whether they believed such a transfer was near.

 

The White House said that Obama and Netanyahu had discussed regional security and peace in the Middle East. According to a statement, the two agreed to continue the close cooperation maintained by the two nations in a wide range of security issues.


נתניהו מסייר בסין (צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע"מ)

Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO

 

Obama recently voiced his support of Israel's right to defend itself against Hezbollah, however Washington has not officially commented on reports of two Israeli airstrikes in Damascus.

 

During a tour of the Great Wall of China, Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to fortify itself on all fronts.

 

Israel is also trying to prevent the sale of weapons that might threaten its air supremacy in the north.


מערכת ההגנה האווירית S-300 (צילום: AFP)

SA-300 air defense system (Photo: AFP)

 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bashar Assad's government has been seeking to purchase S-300 missile batteries—which can intercept both manned aircraft and guided missiles—from Moscow going back to the George W. Bush administration.

 

Western nations have lobbied President Vladimir Putin's government not to go ahead with the sale. If Syria were to acquire and deploy the systems, it would make any international intervention in Syria far more complicated, according to US and Middle East-based officials.

 

The paper further stated that according to information provided by Israel in recent days, Syria has been making payments on a 2010 agreement with Moscow to buy four batteries for $900 million. Israel reportedly cited financial transactions from the Syrian government, including one made this year through Russia's foreign-development bank, known as the VEB.

 

The package includes six launchers and 144 operational missiles, each with a range of 125 miles.

The first shipment could come over the next three months, according to the Israelis' information, and be concluded by the end of the year, it was reported.

 

Should Russia go ahead with the sale, it would mark a significant escalation in the battle between Moscow and Washington over Syria.

 

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with President Putin in Moscow in an effort to convince Russia to back a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis.

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced in a joint press conference with Kerry of the establishment of an international conference involving both regime and opposition representatives that will seek a compromise.

 

 

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