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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018


Putin and Netanyahu discuss joint action to fight terrorism

Fight terrorism in the Middle East

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MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate their two countries' actions to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

The phone call by Putin to Netanyahu took place three days after Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar was killed in Syria in an aerial strike, which was attributed to Israel.

The Kremlin and the Prime Minister's Office released almost identical statements after the conversation. The two leaders agreed on the need to continue dialogue at various levels, including coordination in the war against terrorism between the two countries, as well as in other regional matters.

The Hezbollah attributes the killing of Samir Kuntar to Israel.

Putin and Netanyahu discussed the Syrian crisis during their conversation.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that there is no alternative to the launch of intra-Syrian negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as to the continued and uncompromising fight against Islamic State and other extremist groups acting in Syria," the Kremlin was quoted as saying.

Israel and Russia have a joint mechanism to coordinate military operations in Syria, and in particular on the use of Syrian airspace. The mechanism, headed by the deputy chiefs of staff on both sides, is meant to prevent confrontations.

The Kremlin spokesman said at a press conference earlier in the week that he did not know for certain if Israel had coordinated with Russia, or informed it in advance of the attack in which Kuntar was killed.

Netanyahu had visited Moscow in September, soon after Russia's military engagement in Syria, to set up a mechanism to prevent the accidental confrontation of Russian and Israeli fighter-planes over Syria.

Asked if Israel and Moscow had coordinated on the killing of Kuntar, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unsure whether Israel had warned Russia about the strike.

"There is a working mechanism of information exchanges between the general staffs. It is the military who should be addressed with this question and asked if there had been any prior notifications on that score," he said.

Arab media not affiliated with the Assad regime or Hezbollah asserted that Russia and Israel coordinated the attack against Kuntar, as Moscow did not make use of the S-400 air defense system it deployed in Syria to stop the airstrike.

The conversation between Putin and Netanyahu was also held in the wake of agreements between Turkey and Israel that could lead to reconciliation between the two countries.

While Ankara is warming ties with Jerusalem, its relationship with Moscow remains strained after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet last month, leading to an exchange of accusations between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The phone conversation also comes on the heels of the visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Putin's bitter rival, to Israel.

Poroshenko met with both Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has said that a Russian plane had mistakenly entered Israeli airspace, but was not shot down.

Ya'alon said the plane entered about 1.5km into Israeli airspace by mistake and immediately turned around back to Syria when the Russians were notified.> BNN

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