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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Netanyahu to meet Putin after downing of Russian plane

The pair will discuss coordination in Syria as tensions continue to rise

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin on July 11, 2018. EPA
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin on July 11, 2018. EPA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss coordination in Syria after the accidental downing of a Russian plane in September.

Mr Netanyahu said he had spoken with Mr Putin and the two agreed "to meet soon in order to continue the important inter-military security coordination".

Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu again pledged to stop "Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon".

The meeting would be the first since the Russian plane was downed by Syrian air defences, which fired in response to an Israeli raid in the country.

Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu have spoken at least three times by phone since the September 17 incident.

Fifteen Russians were killed in the incident that Moscow blamed on Israel, accusing its pilots of using the larger Russian plane as cover.

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Israel disputes the Russian findings and says its jets were back in Israeli airspace when the plane was downed.

Russia announced new security measures to protect its military in Syria, including supplying the Syrian army with S-300 air defence systems and jamming radars of nearby warplanes.

Those measures have led to concern in Israel that it will be forced to limit its strikes against what it calls Iranian and Hezbollah targets in the neighbouring country.

It has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

Russia and Israel set up a hotline in 2015 to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.

Both Iran and Hezbollah – enemies of Israel – are supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime in his country's civil war alongside Russia.