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Sharon Expresses Concerns about Russia's Missile Sales to Syria

By VOA News
21 April 2005

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has expressed concern that Russian anti-aircraft missiles being sold to Syria could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

However, in an interview with Israeli radio broadcast Thursday, Mr. Sharon acknowledged that Israel cannot intervene in Russian weapons sales to other countries.

Russia has assured Israel the missiles in question are defensive and vehicle-mounted, and that they could not be converted to shoulder-launched models.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told an Israeli television Wednesday the SA-18 missiles in Syria would "of course make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian president."

Two years ago, Israeli warplanes flew over President Hafez al-Assad's palace in Damascus, apparently to warn that he must rein in terrorist groups based in Syria.

Mr. Putin is to visit Israel and the Palestinian territory next week.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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