Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Wednesday and presented the Israeli premier with the details of the cease-fire in Syria that is expected to go into effect on Saturday. The conversation between the two leaders was one of a series of phone calls that Putin made, and was preceded by calls to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iranian President Hassan Rohani and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
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The Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the content of Netanyahu's phone conversation. The Kremlin released a statement saying that Putin and Netanyahu had agreed to meet in the coming months and hold a series of high-level meetings as part of commemorations marking 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Israel has not fully developed its policy on the outlines of a future settlement of the Syrian civil war. The current Israeli position is that any cease-fire agreement or other future settlement in Syria must not provide gains for Iran and Hezbollah or increase their influence in Syrian and the region. The director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, who visited Moscow last week, made this stance clear to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and also asked that any future settlement in Syria take Israel's security interests into account, including most importantly preventing the opening of a terrorist front in the Golan Heights and halting the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory.
Wednesday's conversation between the Russian president and Israeli prime minister is part of the close coordination that their two countries have been carrying out with respect to the entire situation in Syria. In the context of that coordination, an Israeli military delegation secretly visited Moscow last week and met with senior Russian counterparts. The delegation was headed by Brig. Gen. Avi Peled, who heads the international military cooperation department of the Israel Defense Forces. The delegation also included a senior officer from the research department of the Intelligence Corps.
The situation in Syria was the main topic of discussion between the Israeli and Russian military representatives. Israel is careful to brief the United States on the details of the contacts with Russia, including details regarding the visits carried out by Foreign Ministry director general Gold and the military delegations, a senior Israeli official has noted.
According to a Kremlin statement, in his conversation with Syrian President Assad, Putin discussed the cease-fire agreement in Syria that Russia and the United States reached. Assad reportedly said the Russian-American agreement is an important step in the direction of a diplomatic solution to the civil war, stressing that his government is prepared to implement the cease-fire.
Putin then spoke with Saudi King Salman, whose country opposes the Assad regime and supports, finances and arms a major portion of the rebel groups in Syria. Putin presented the Saudi king with the details of the cease-fire agreement, the Kremlin stated. Putin's office also claimed that King Salman welcomed the cease-fire and noted that he is prepared to act in cooperation with Russia to have the agreement implemented.
The call with King Salman was followed by the conversation with Iranian President Rohani, whose troops are fighting alongside the forces of Assad, Hezbollah and Russia in Syria. The Kremlin statement on the conversation said the two also discussed the slated cease-fire in the country.