Russia, Syria agree on need to free Middle East from weapons of mass destruction
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that the shoulder-launched Igla SA-18 missiles his country wants to purchase from Russia would not pose a threat to Israel. "This is a defensive, air defense, weapon," Assad told students during a visit to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, Interfax news agency reported. "If Israel is against us buying it, it means it wants to invade our airspace. The Israeli stance is illogical."
The Syrian leader arrived in Moscow on Monday for the four-day visit.
Assad told the students Tuesday that he would discuss possible purchases of Russian weapons during his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials. "Military-technical cooperation between Russia and Syria didn't stop even during the cold spell in relations during the 1990s," Assad said, according to Interfax.
Later, and following Assad's meeting with his Russain peer, both states agreed to boost cooperation. In their joint declaration, the two leaders said they agreed that their countries “will effect close coordination and cooperation in the framework of various bodies of the United Nations and other international organizations on vital international problems connected with the prevention and peaceful settlement of regional crises and conflicts, and fighting trans-national crime, illegal narcotics trafficking and money laundering”.
The sides also declared support for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and agreed “to coordinate the efforts to turn the Middle East into a zone free from weapons of mass destruction”.