Published: Sun, July 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iran hails ties with Russian Federation amid Israel's concerns

Iran hails ties with Russian Federation amid Israel's concerns

But it is not clear if Russian Federation will press Iran to remove those forces from Syria completely as Israel has demanded.

President Vladimir Putin has confirmed the spending plan, with at least three deals worth some $15 billion already on the table, Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Iran's supreme leader, said in Moscow on Friday.

Iran's role in Syria will be a key topic at an upcoming summit between Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Finland's capital Helsinki on Monday.

In a Thursday interview with VOA Persian from Moscow, Netanyahu's Arab media spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said Russian Federation "understands" Israeli concerns about the Iranian military presence in Syria.

According to Velayati, Iran would immediately withdraw its "military advisers" from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

Israel has pressed hard for the removal of Iranian and Hezbollah forces, especially as the Syrian government has reclaimed territory close to the Israeli border along the Golan Heights.

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The Kremlin said Putin and Velayati discussed the situation in Syria and bilateral relations and Velayati had given Putin messages from Khamenei and from Iran's president Hassan Rouhani.

Velayati's comments are likely meant to at least partially preempt that possibility by making it clear Iran's presence in Syria is not contingent on Russian permission, but rather on the Assad government's invitation.

Russia, China, and major European powers say they still back a 2015 multinational nuclear deal with Iran, despite US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out and to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted as part of the accord.

Robert Ford, former United States ambassador to Syria who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said one idea circulating in Washington is that the U.S. would retain its military presence at Tanf, near the junction of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, until the Iranians withdraw from Syria. "Our opinion is that Iran needs to leave Syria - that's not new to you".

He also strongly warned Russian Federation against listening to the USA arguments about the Iranian presence in Syria.

Would Iran accept a deal? I don't trust Russian Federation to police Iran or anyone else in Syria. He suggested Iran will use avenues it has used in the past to evade the sanctions to receive payments for its oil exports.

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