Syria calls for stronger military ties with Moscow

August 20th, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Aug 20 (DPA) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Wednesday accused the West of spreading “total disinformation” in an effort to isolate Russia after its conflict with Georgia, and pledged to expand military ties with Moscow.”On this question, we fully support Russia … Georgia started this crisis, but the West is blaming Russia,” al-Assad said in an interview with the business newspaper Kommersant ahead of his arrival in Moscow for two-days of meetings Wednesday.

Al-Assad said the west was guilty of “total disinformation and distortion of facts” during the 10-day clash of Georgian and Russian forces over the separatist region of South Ossetia.

“The war, which exploded in Georgia, is the apogee of western efforts to encircle and isolate Russia,” he told the newspaper, accusing the US of persevering in its Cold War policy of containment.

Al-Assad cited the conflict, in which Moscow has accused Georgia of being supplied by Israeli-made arms, as an impetus for strengthening military cooperation with Moscow, including in opposition to US plans to build a missile defence system in Eastern Europe.

Commenting on the planned talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the Syrian president said, “Military and technical cooperation, of course, is the main issue. Weapons purchases are a priority … Particularly as the West and Israel continue to pressure Russia.”

Moscow has come under severe criticism from the US and Israel for reinvigorating Soviet-era weapons trade with Syria, a close ally of Iran.

Al-Assad also held out the possibility Wednesday that Russia could cite Iskander missiles on its territory in an effort to counter the planned deployment of a US missile shield in Eastern Europe, which Russia views as a security threat.

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