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Israel Asks Russia Not To Send Missiles To Syria

Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon (file photo) 12 January 2005 -- Israel is trying to stop Russia from selling missiles to Syria due to fears the weapons could end up in the hands of Lebanese guerrillas or other extremists.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom today confirmed that Israeli and Russian officials were in talks about Russia's sale of Igla SA-18 missiles to Syria.

Shalom said the talks had been in progress for several days already and added Israel hoped to reach an agreement. The Igla SA-18 is a portable shoulder-held antiaircraft missile considered to be one of the most advanced missiles available at the moment.

Amid the Israeli-Russian talks on the missile sale, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said today there were no grounds to claim his country's relations with Israel had deteriorated.