Putin Says He Agreed With Trump to Secure Syria Border With Israel
(Bloomberg) -- Russia has agreed with the U.S. to secure Israel’s Golan Heights frontier with Syria, a line set in 1974 at the end of their last war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“This will allow us to return calm to the Golan, restore the cease-fire between Syria and Israel and fully guarantee the security of the State of Israel,” Putin said at a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump after their summit in Helsinki on Monday. “Mr. President devoted a lot of attention to this. Russia wants this to happen.”
Trump said that “creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and myself” want to happen.
The U.S. has been pushing Russia to help eject Iran from postwar Syria, something the Kremlin says can’t be achieved. Still, the two countries have been trying to negotiate a deal on a pull back of Iranian-backed forces in southern Syria from the frontier and the deployment of troops loyal to the government in Damascus in their place. The Israeli-occupied section of the Golan was captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
Putin last week met separately in Moscow with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a senior envoy of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in an effort to forge a compromise.
Trump has shifted away from his predecessor Barack Obama’s policy of demanding the ouster of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a position the U.S. adopted before Russia intervened militarily in late 2015 to turn the tide of the civil war in Assad’s favor with Iran’s help.
Still, there are major questions about Putin’s ability to enforce any agreement involving Iran’s actions in Syria, even if he offers to deploy troops to police the border areas in question. Russia has taken the lead with Iran and Turkey in seeking to enforce a halt to the civil war that began in 2011, so that United Nations-backed peace talks can try to reach a political settlement.
Netanyahu commends the “abiding commitment” of the U.S. and Trump to the security of Israel and Putin’s pledge to uphold the 1974 disengagement accord, his office said in a text message.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.