Photo Credit: MFA Spokesperson's Bureau
FM Gabi Ashkenazi (R) and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov.

Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military front on its northern border in Syria, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

The two met in Athens on Monday. Ashkenazi is in Greece for the annual trilateral Israel-Greece-Cyprus Summit.

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This is the ministers’ first meeting after two phone calls between them. Ashkenazi and Lavrov met in private and then held an extended meeting with other diplomats.

The focus of the conversation was on the Iranian issue, the importance of maintaining stability in the Middle East, and dealing with terrorist organizations, and in particular, Hezbollah.

“I emphasized the need to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria and stop the transfer of arms to Hezbollah,” Ashkenazi stated after the meeting.

Iran’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel. Israel’s Air Force has carried out thousands of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Iran uses its positions in Syria to transfer weapons and infrastructure to its terror proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, while attempting to establish another military front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.

“Israel appreciates the dialogue and coordination with the Russian government to prevent Iran from establishing itself in Syria. We must continue to work resolutely to prevent the leakage of weapons and precision weapons into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which operates under behind the civilian population and uses it as a hostage for world-wide terrorist activity.”

Russia has a presence in Syria and has significant sway on the development in the country. The IDF and the Russian army maintain a line of communications through which they coordinate their actions to prevent a clash between the two militaries.

The foreign ministers also discussed advancing the extensive bilateral agenda between the two countries.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.