Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Zarif today (Monday February 19, 2018) attended the opening session of the Valdai Club, a research institute sponsored by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It was the first debate of its kind to focus on Russia’s role in the Middle East. From the opening remarks of both ministers, it was evident that the Syrian issue and the Saudi Arabian-Iranian conflict lie at the heart of the current problems in the Middle East.
Dr. Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, was also invited to this important conference by President Putin’s envoy for Syrian affairs. He is expected to participate tomorrow in a panel on the subject of Kurdish independence, along with a former Iraqi government minister .
In addition, Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin has also been invited to the conference.
In response to a question from an Arab press reporter, and with reference to remarks by Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, who called for Israel’s destruction several days ago, Lavrov stated that he “does not accept calls for wiping a country off the world map.”
Lavrov added that developments in Syria depend, among other things, upon what the United States would do or not do in that country. Also on the panel was Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Zarif, who referred to last week’s incident in the north as “Israeli aggression.”
“Israel has violated Syrian sovereignty. For the first time in 36 years, Syrian defense forces managed to bring down an Israeli plane. Is this a catastrophe? Is this a strategic complication, or is the fact that Israel violated the airspace of a sovereign state a strategic catastrophe?” Zarif asked.
He continued: “Israel has to put a stop to its aggression. Don’t look for excuses, such as drones. We need to stop this aggression, and if anyone takes such an action against another country, we have to react.”
Similarly, in his speech, Zarif alluded to Saudi Arabia’s past actions and called upon the country to participate, based on mutual understandings, in bringing peace to the Middle East and specifically to the Gulf region. In the Iranian foreign minister’s opinion, “We need to stop thinking in the old-fashioned way about military pacts against our enemies, which creates more disputes and conflicts between countries.”
Russian foreign minister: We don't accept calls to wipe a country off the map
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov regarding Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Zarif's calls for the destruction of Israel