Syria has reportedly renewed discussions with Moscow over the purchase of the former superpower's S-300 air and missile defense system.
The London-based Al Hayat daily, cited by Middle East Newsline (MENL), said on Thursday that the discussions were taking place this week on the sidelines of the Moscow air show, entitled MAKS-2001.
The newspaper said Syria had renewed discussions on the S-300 raised during the visit of Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass in May.
"Syria is an old friend and we deal with it and intend to continue to deal with it," Andrei Vladinov, a Russian defense industry official told the newspaper.
According to MENL, the S-300 has long been on Syria's shopping list. The advanced versions of the system have radar that can track targets at a range of up to 300 kilometers.
Hayat reported that Russian and Syrian officials were negotiating an S-300 deal after Moscow had refused earlier requests by Damascus for the system.
The United States is said to have pressed Moscow to ban sales of the S-300 in the Middle East.
Russian defense officials, however, said Moscow was continuing efforts to sell the S-300 to such prospective clients as Egypt and Iran.
The newspaper said Israel was concerned that the S-300 radar would be able to cover large areas.
During Tlass’s visit to Moscow, Russia approved the sale of three advanced high-altitude reconnaissance combat jets to Syria, Middle East Newsline (MENL) reported then, citing Western intelligence sources.
The sources said Syria planned to use the MiG-25R for reconnaissance missions over Israel, which could help it identify targets in any war with the Jewish state – Albawaba.com
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