Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters Monday after his meeting with Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris that senior Israeli military officers will meet with their Russian counterparts Tuesday in an effort to tighten coordination between the two countries over military activities in Syria. The meeting comes in the wake of Turkey's downing of a Russian plane in Syria that it claimed entered its airspace.
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Putin and Netanyahu met for over 45 minutes, with Syria topping their agenda. "We have agreed to enhance military coordination between us to prevent accidents on a wide scale," Netanyahu said. "We want to increase cooperation to prevent collisions over Syria's skies," he added.
Netanyahu also met with French President Francois Hollande to discuss the November 13 attacks in Paris and the possible cooperation between their two nations in combating terrorism. Netanyahu and Hollande also addressed the situation in Syria and stressed the necessity to find a solution.
During Netanyahu's Putin meeting, he stressed before Putin that Israel will not accept any aggression originating from Syrian territory and vowed to continue to thwart any attempts to pass arms to Hezbollah from Syrian territory. Netanyahu said that despite Russia's military activities in Syria and Russia's deployment of advanced anti-aircraft defense systems in the war-torn country, Israel will not cut back its own activities.
"I told Putin that we will continue to look out for our interests against any sigh of aggressions and I think he [Putin] understands and accepts that," Netanyahu said. "The feeling was one of a desire to prevent escalations, but also of respect towards Israel's security needs. There is ongoing and continuous military coordination between us. We do not accept or owe Russia limitations on our freedom to act," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also noted that during the meeting, Putin briefed him on the details of the incident in which a Russian plane was downed by Turkey's air force near the border with Syria last week, and even gave him information the Russians have collected on the incident. "It is important to understand that there are special relations here that serve our national interest," Netanyahu said after the meeting.
"We can only imagine what state we would be in if we would have found ourselves today in a conflict with this world power. Neither we nor the Russians have any interest in such a conflict. We are doing everything we can to avoid it."