Putin hosts Netanyahu for talks to discuss Syria and Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday to voice opposition to what the Israeli leader charged were Iran's attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, March 9, 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow on Thursday for talks expected to focus on the situation in Syria.

Greeting Netanyahu at the start of their talks, Putin emphasised the high level of trust between the two leaders.

Netanyahu hailed Russia's role in fighting the Daesh terror group and other radical militants in Syria. At the same time, he warned of the danger posed by radical Shiite groups, an apparent reference to the Hezbollah movement.

Netanyahu will also voice opposition to what Israel says are Iran's attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.

Israeli leaders have pointed to Tehran's steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Shiite Muslim proxies, especially Hezbollah.

Majority-Shiite Iran says its troops are in Syria to defend holy Shiite shrines. However, the chief of staff of Iran's military said in November Tehran might seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future.

Russia has sided with Iran and Hezbollah in helping support Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, but at the same time it has maintained warm ties with Israel. The two nations have coordinated to prevent any possible incidents between their militaries in Syria.

Netanyahu's visit to Moscow follows his talks with US President Donald Trump last month.

TRTWorld and agencies