Putin to Sharon: Russia to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Syria
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a letter Tuesday from Russian President Vladimir Putin, informing him of Russia's decision to go ahead with the sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Israel has been waging a diplomatic battle against the deal; Sharon wrote Putin that the missiles could undermine Israel's security as they could "leak" to Hezbollah and other terror groups.
Putin told Sharon in the letter that the weapons were not shoulder-missiles favored by the terror organizations, but rather they would be mounted on vehicles, and therefore they would not endanger Israel. He said Syria could oversee the placement of the missiles so as not to upset the balance of power in the area.
A professional body of the European Union is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Brussels to discuss Israel's request to place Hezbollah on the European list of terror organizations. The meeting comes in the wake of wide-ranging diplomatic efforts by Israel over the past few weeks, including the publicizing of statements by senior Palestinians on the danger represented by Hezbollah. Israel based its request to the EU on the threat both to itself and to the Palestinian Authority from Hezbollah's initiating and financing of terror activities in the territories.
The French are the main stumbling block to an affirmative response to Israel's request. In talks with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Monday, French President Jacque Chirac reiterated France's objection to adding Hezbollah to the list.
Political sources said Tuesday that it was unclear whether there would be a vote after the debate in Brussels, or whether the vote would be deferred in order to continue examining the issue more closely.