On June 25th, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat met in trilateral talks on the Middle East situation.
Presumably, the meeting was supposed to be focused on Syria, but Iran was also a very central point of discussion.
Patrushev said that Israel’s security should be ensured, while taking into account the interests of regional states.
“We understand Israel’s concerns and we want the existing threats to be eliminated so that Israel’s security be ensured, and this is very important for us,” Patrushev said. “At the same time, we should remember that other regional states also have their national interests,” he noted. “If we do not see, know and take them into account, I doubt that we will be able to achieve a particular result.”
Russia is opposed to Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and Patrushev hinted at that opposition in his remarks.
“There should be a peaceful, prosperous and sovereign Syria,” he said.
He further said that Russia was combating terrorism in Syria together with Iran.
“We have a mutual possibility to influence each other and we have an opportunity to listen to each other,” he stated.
Patrushev called for reducing Iranian-Israeli tensions and preventing Syria from becoming an “arena of geopolitical confrontation.”
“They noted the importance of progressively reducing tensions in Iran-Israel relations by implementing reciprocal steps. They stressed that Syria should not become an arena of geopolitical confrontation,” said Patrushev.
He further said that rather than raising tensions, Israel and the US should assist Russia in Syria to eradicate the remaining terrorist.
“(We) stated the need to unite efforts to destroy all terrorists remaining in Syria. They called for immediate suppression of the access of terrorists to chemical warfare agents and their precursors, as well as to prevent chemical provocations,” Patrushev said.
Finally, Patrushev commented on two other recent events involving Iran and the US – the downing of the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, which Iran said was above its territory and the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US blamed on Iran.
Regarding the tanker attacks, he said that the evidence presented by the US was unprofessional and of poor quality.
“What we are portrayed is completely poor-quality information; we need to conduct an objective investigation and not appoint someone guilty, but really understand what happened,” he said.
According to Patrushev, “the materials that were provided do not allow making any decisions.”
In relation to the downed drone, Parushev said that the drone had been over Iranian territory.
“I have information from the Russian Ministry of Defense, this drone was in Iranian airspace,” Patrushev said.
In terms of the actual situation in Syria, Patrushev said that he called on the US to lift sanctions from companies that were attempting to assist in the restoration of the country.
“They stressed the feasibility of providing international assistance to the restoration of the Syrian national economy, including the withdrawal restrictions and unilateral sanctions from economic operators who work or are interested in working in the Syrian sector,” said Patrushev.
On the side of the US, National Security Adviser John Bolton called the discussions “productive.”
He told reporters that Iran “should not mistake restraint as a sign of weakness.” Iran must halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons and “all options are on the table” until it does.
“They should give up their pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons. They should make that strategic step, they have not done it yet,” Bolton said.
Prior to the meeting, Bolton said, “US President Donald Trump has held the door open for real negotiations, to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, it’s pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support of international terrorism and its other maligning behavior worldwide.”
In addition to him attending the meeting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US envoy on Iran Brian Hook – were also in the region to discuss Iran with Arab leaders. “As we speak, US diplomats are surging across the Middle East seeking a path to peace,” Bolton said. “
In response Iran’s silence is deafening,” he added.”Iran’s provocations, which also include threats to and acts upon American personnel and assets in the Middle East, are the external manifestations of the essential threat Iran poses, namely its continued pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons,” Bolton said.
“There is simply no evidence that Iran has made the strategic decision to renounce nuclear weapons and open realistic discussion to demonstrate that decision,” he added.
“In just a few days – perhaps by the weekend – Iran has threatened to exceed the key limits possessed by the inadequate 2015 nuclear deal, exposing once again the fatal deficiencies of that failed agreement,” Bolton said.
Bolton told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also present at the meeting, that the meeting “is a tribute to your leadership and a recognition of the central role that Israel does and must play in securing international peace and security.”
He added that, “through your strong relationships with both [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and President Trump, there is a substantially greater prospect for coordination of our perspective policies in order to achieve a secure and lasting peace in the region.”
During his press conference, following the meeting, Bolton disputed Patrushev’s positive view of Iranian troops in Syria, saying he did not believe this was the true stance of Russia and that Moscow also hopes to see Tehran’s forces and proxies leave Syria.
“The Russians have said repeatedly that they would like to see Iranian forces leave,” he said.
On the side of Israel, Israeli media represented the situation as the US and Israel being on the one side, and Russia choosing Iran’s side.
Opening the Jerusalem meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of “hundreds” of operations against Iran’s military presence in Syria and threatened to continue hostile activity near the northern borders of the country.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said he “deeply values the strong relations that Israel has with both leaders and both countries,” adding that “Our friendship with Russia has gotten stronger than ever these past few years.”
“I believe there’s wider basis for cooperation between the three of us. This summit represents a real opportunity to help advance stability in our region, and particularly in Syria,” he said. “We’d like to see a peaceful, stable and secure Syria,” Netanyahu added, calling for the removal of all “foreign forces that arrived in Syria after 2011.”
It will “be good for Russia, good for the U.S., good for Israel and, may I add, good for Syria,” he argued.
Israeli National Security Council Chairman Meir Ben-Shabbat was present at the meeting as only a figurehead, since Netanyahu basically took everything out of his hands.
Showing how much “the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East,” believes his aides and lets them be autonomous.
The entire meeting can be summarized as such:
The US and Israel had their own agenda, which they were entirely vested in following, they likely expected Russia to be on Iran’s side, but not as much.
The summarizing statement for the entire event came from Patrushev:
“In the context of the statements made by our partners with regard to a major regional power, namely Iran, I would like to say the following: Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on bilateral basis and within multilateral formats.”
“This is why we believe that it is inadmissible to describe Iran as the major threat to the regional security and, moreover, to put it on par with the Islamic State or any other terrorist organization,” he declared.
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