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Russian proposal apparently tied Iran-sanctions relief to withdrawal from Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not indicate whether the idea was made during his brief encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris.

Syrian President Bashar Assad (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin with defense leaders in November 2017. Credit: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons.
Syrian President Bashar Assad (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin with defense leaders in November 2017. Credit: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons.

Russia recently proposed to Israel and the United States that Iran receive sanctions relief from some U.S. sanctions in exchange for the removal of Iran’s forces and its proxies from Syria, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting on Monday.

According to Axios: “Iranian retrenchment in Syria is a huge concern for Israel, but the Russian position until now has been, at least publicly, that Iran’s presence is legitimate because it came at the Assad regime’s invitation. This is the first we’re hearing that the Russians have floated an idea for Iran’s withdrawal, and that they’re linking it to U.S. sanctions.”

Lawmakers who attended the meeting said that Netanyahu did not indicate whether the Russian proposal was made during his brief encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris last week, “but that it definitely seemed that way from the prime minister’s comments,” according to Axios. “They said Netanyahu spoke favorably about his meeting with Putin, and said the Russians cannot push the Iranians out of Syria on their own, but need help from other world powers.”

The Israeli prime minister did not take a stance on the Russian proposition.

The Russian embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment to the outlet, which was told by a senior State Department official: “We remain engaged with the U.N. ‎and other parties, including Russia, to encourage all possible efforts to advance the political track as called for in UNSCR 2254. We do not however discuss the substance of these diplomatic discussions.”

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