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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grachev Views Golan Heights

JERUSALEM -- Defense Minister Pavel Grachev viewed the Israeli-held Golan Heights without setting foot on the strategic and politically sensitive high ground.

"I do not deal with political issues," Grachev told reporters Sunday in northern Israel after flying over the plateau in an Israeli air force helicopter.

Grachev, on the first visit to Israel by a Russian defense minister, signed a military cooperation agreement with the Jewish state Friday.

Egypt condemned the alliance as not contributing to Middle East peace.

In Beirut on Sunday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posvalyuk said the pact did not mean his country was abandoning ties with Syria or other Arab countries. The former Soviet Union was Syria's main arms supplier in its conflict with Israel.

During his tour, Grachev was briefed by an Israeli military officer on the battles Israeli armor fought against Syria's Soviet-built tanks on the Golan.

Grachev will visit Belarus on Dec. 8 to 9, the Defense Ministry announced Monday.