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(photo credit: AP)
Moscow believes it has settled its differences with Israel over concerns that Hezbollah militants used Russian missiles during their recent fighting in southern Lebanon, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday, and hinted that the guerrillas favored US and Israeli-made weapons.
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Israel's claims that Hizbullah guerillas used Russian missiles during their 34-day war this summer have clouded improving relations between Israel and Russia, and were discussed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his visit to Moscow this week.
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"In my view, this subject in general is closed," Ivanov said in televised comments. He said that he could not reveal details, but that "exhaustive answers were given to the Israeli side," the Interfax news agency reported.
He also suggested that Russia believes Hizbullah guerillas used more US - and Israeli-made weapons than Russian ones, saying a report Thursday in the Russian daily Kommersant asserted that Russia gave Israel documents proving that claim was "in many ways close to the truth."
Israel does not accuse Russia of directly supplying Hizbullah, but maintains Russian arms were sold to Syria and Iran, which sent them on to their Hizbullah proxies.
Olmert would not say after the talks whether Russian officials confirmed Israel's claims, but he said he was "satisfied" that they would "do all in their power to take steps so we don't have to worry in the future."
Ivanov had said in August that Israel had provided no evidence that Hizbullah had Russian-designed missiles. But Kommersant, citing an unidentified Russian official involved in the talks, reported that Russia acknowledged that Hizbullah could have acquired Russian missiles from Syrian officers as they withdrew from Lebanon last year.