MOSCOW – Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied Friday that Russia was holding secret talks with Syria over a deal to provide the Middle Eastern country with high-precision missile systems.
“We don’t have any secret topics that we discuss with Syria,” he said. “We adhere to all our international obligations and will not allow them to be breached.”
He said that talks were under way on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to Russia later this month.
The ITAR-Tass news agency later quoted Assad as saying Syrian acquistion of Russian missiles “will not be on the agenda of the Moscow negotiations between the two presidents.”
Israeli officials alleged that Russia and Syria had signed a deal for the sale of advanced Igla SA-18 missiles a few days ago, and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday that his country had asked Russia to call off the sale, claiming the weapons would disrupt regional stability.
“We turned to the Russians and asked that they not complete this deal,” Shalom said. “Syria is a country that supports terror and is supplying Hezbollah with weapons nonstop.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa also denied that his country had struck a deal with Russia. He accused Israel of launching a media campaign ahead of Syrian Assad’s visit to Moscow on Jan. 24-28.
“The campaign (against Syria) began before the visit and before the signing of any agreement,” al-Sharaa said Thursday in Damascus.