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Foreign Affairs

Lavrov Meets Israeli PM In Jerusalem Over Syria, Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 23 to discuss the Iranian presence in Syria.

Netanyahu announced earlier that Russian President Vladimir Putin had requested the meeting. The Russian delegation included the chief of the military's General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

Netanyahu said ahead of the meeting that they would discuss regional developments with "the situation in Syria being first and foremost."

During the meeting with Lavrov, Netanyahu turned down a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 kilometers from the border, an Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The official said that Netanyahu told Lavrov, "We will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometrs from the border."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after the meeting, that during the talks "the parties tackled various aspects of the Middle Eastern agenda, attaching primary significance to the situation in Syria and its vicinity."

Israel wants to keep Iran, which is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops, as far away from its border as possible.

Russia, a key Assad ally, has warned that it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

Netanyahu and Putin discussed Syria and Iran in Moscow two weeks ago.

Hours before Netanyahu's meeting with Lavrov, Israel activated a missile-defense system, which it could use against rockets from the fighting in Syria

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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