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Israel's Olmert to visit Russia soon

world Updated: Aug 22, 2008 15:17 IST

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should travel to Moscow within two weeks to press Russia not to sell new types of weapons to Syria, the Yediot Aharonot daily said on Friday.

Government spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment on the report but confirmed Olmert held talks by telephone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday.

During the conversation, Olmerttold Medvedev it would be a waste for Syria to spend billions of dollars on buying weapons that Israel would eventually destroy, according to the newspaper.

Israeli officials have expressed concern over reports that Russia was willing to sell weapons to Syria, a longtime foe of the Jewish state.

"Russia has its own interests in the region and nobody wants to destabilise the region," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday.

"And I think according to this assessment it is of mutual interest of Russia, Israel and pragmatic leaders of states in the region not to send this kind of long-range missiles to Syria," she said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was earlier quoted as saying that Russia was ready to sell Syria new weapons "of a defensive character."

The controversy coincided with a visit to Russia by Syrian President Bashar al-As