Shalom confirms request to block arms sale

Jan. 13, 2005 at 3:19 PM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Thursday confirmed having asked Russia not to sell Syria new missiles.

Israel has been concerned over the planned sale of SA-18 ground to air missiles.

"We turned to the Russians and asked not to do so," Shalom told reporters. He denied there was a crisis with Russia.

Israeli sources said such missiles could also reach militants in Iraq and threaten U.S. aircraft there.

Israeli security experts said such a sale would not really change the balance of power between Israel and Syria. However, they were concerned such missiles, that are small and easy to hide, would reach Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

"Syria is a terror supporting state that continuously transfers arms to Hezbollah," Shalom said.

"The whole world is now trying to isolate it (Syria) for its support of terror and, therefore, there is no reason Russia should act against what the world is doing today, something that will harm regional stability and not improve the chances for peace," he said.

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