Israel Gets No Firm Pledge On Weapons Sales to Iran

APOlmert and Medvedev speaking during two-hour talks Tuesday in the Kremlin.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apparently failed on Tuesday to win a pledge that Moscow would halt weapons sales to Israel's enemies.

Wrapping up a two-day visit, Olmert said only that he had succeeded in getting President Dmitry Medvedev to understand his fears that Russian-made missiles and other technology could fall into the hands of anti-Israeli guerrillas in the region.

"My feeling is the Russian government understands well the Israeli position and is aware the possible influence such supplying could have on stability in the region," Olmert told reporters traveling with him.

But he gave no direct response to the question of whether Russia had agreed not to sell the S-300 air defense system to Tehran, which Israel sees as a threat to its existence, saying: "We discussed issues of weapons sales and the possibility of weapons sales."

The two sides did agree to open a permanent line of dialogue on defense issues and to set up a "strategic team" to continue discussing the weapons sales.

"Russia's policy will continue to be that it would not hurt Israeli security under any circumstances," Olmert said Medvedev told him in the course of a two-hour meeting at the Kremlin.

"We agree to upgrade our economic, defensive and strategic ties," he said.

Israeli defense sources said Sunday that Iran was in talks to purchase Russia's advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, which would help Iran fend off any Israeli or U.S. air strike against its nuclear facilities.