Russian ambassador: We can’t force Iran to leave Syria
Russia’s ambassador to Israel says his country cannot force Iran to withdraw all of its forces from Syria, despite Israel’s insistence that it do so.
Anatoly Viktorov tells Channel 10 news that the Iranians are “playing a very, very important role in our common and joint efforts to eliminate terrorists in Syria.
“The Iranian presence in Syria… is fully legitimate according to the UN principles and the UN charter,” he continues.
Viktorov says Russia can talk to its “Iranian friends” about a full withdrawal from Syria, as Israel demands, but “we cannot force them.”
He also does not confirm Israeli officials’ statement to the effect that Moscow had offered to keep Iran at a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border, though he implies that Russia will not oppose continued Israeli airstrikes on Iranian bases in the country, Channel 10 says.
Russian envoy says ‘not up to’ his country to challenge Israeli strikes in Syria
The Russian ambassador says his country wants to see the implementation of “all of the provisions” of the 1974 separation of forces agreement along the Israel-Syria border.
“We agreed that on the other side of the border, there will only be regular units of the Syrian army,” Viktorov tells Channel 10. “The priority is to secure the State of Israel… These are not empty words for Russian foreign policy.”
Asked how Russia and Israel planned to ensure that the agreement was upheld, he says, “No non-Syrian troops should be in the southern deescalation area. Specific details are still under discussion… it would not be fruitful to reveal.”
When Channel 10’s Barak Ravid asks him whether Russia is “okay” with Israel’s reported airstrikes in Syrian territory against Iranian-affiliated targets, Viktorov says, “We are not okay with any forced action. We cannot agree with all actions that are taken by the Israeli government. How can we be satisfied?”
But, asked whether Russia will seek to prevent Israel from carrying out such strikes in the future, he smirks.
“We cannot dictate [to] Israel how to proceed. It is not up to Russia to give Israel freedom to do anything or to prohibit Israel from doing anything.”
Firefighters battle 2 blazes caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza
Firefighters report that there are two fires raging in areas around Gaza, caused by incendiary balloons sent over the border.
A spokesperson says one of the fires is near Saad and the other near Dorot.
Iran rebuffs ‘media speculation’ it may hold talks with US
Iran’s foreign ministry rejects recent reports it may be open to fresh negotiations with the United States, as the country’s currency hit a record low, ahead of the re-imposition of US sanctions.
“The US or parts of the US may express wishes (about talks), but after the (US) illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA and their hostile policies and push for economic pressure on the Iranian nation, I think there is no such issue” in the works, the Tasnim news agency quotes spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying.
Qassemi also dismisses any connection between a recent trip by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Oman and the Omani foreign minister’s visit to Washington last week. Oman hosted Iranian and Obama administration officials during the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
The foreign ministry’s rebuke of “media speculation” comes just days after the influential parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted suggesting Iran could be open to talks with the US, if such a move has widespread backing from the country’s leaders.
US President Donald Trump says he would be willing to meet with Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani with no preconditions.
Trump makes the comments at a joint press conference with the Italian prime minister.
“I’m ready to meet any time they want to. I don’t do that from strength or weakness. I think its an appropriate thing to do. If we can work something out that’s meaningful. Not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet,” he says.
He cites his meeting with North Korea’s leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin and repeats he is willing to meet “anytime they want, with no preconditions.”