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Netanyahu speaks to Putin over Syria conflict


Jerusalem, Jan 1: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the conflict in Syria and "continued security cooperation", his office said.

The talks came as the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously voted to back a Russian-Turkish peace plan for a ceasefire in Syria and the launch of new peace talks for the war-wrecked country.

Benjamin Netanyahu

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening... spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin," the premier's office said in a statement on Saturday.

"The two leaders discussed developments in the region, with emphasis on Syria and continued security coordination in this sphere, which has already proven itself in preventing misunderstandings," it added.

During a visit to Moscow in April, Netanyahu discussed with Putin military cooperation between the two countries aimed at preventing confrontations between their warplanes in Syrian airspace.

In June, Netanyahu visited Moscow again and talks with Putin centred on "the implementation of these arrangements," the premier's office said at the time. Russia is a key ally of the Syrian government and has been fighting to bolster the Damascus regime since last year.

Along with Turkey, which backs the armed opposition, they brokered a ceasefire across Syria that entered its second day on Saturday and held despite sporadic clashes in parts of the country. Moscow and Ankara also say the truce aims to pave the way for peace negotiations later next month in Kazakhstan, also organised by Syria regime ally Iran.

Turkey and Russia have said the talks in the Kazakh capital Astana aim to supplement UN-backed peace efforts, not replace them. Israel is opposed to the Syrian government and has sought to limit its involvement in the conflict. But Israel has carried out sporadic sorties against the militant Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the Syrian regime. Israel fought a devastating war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah in 2006.


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