Upset of ME Strategic Balance Worries Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday urged Russia not to upset the strategic balance in the Middle East with its arms sales to Muslim countries.

"The Russians must play a positive role in the Middle East and not supply arms which could harm the fragile balance in the region," he said in talks with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Barak’s office reported.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner earlier warned that Israel would strike archfoe Iran before it was able to develop nuclear weapons, in comments published on Sunday.

"I honestly don’t believe a nuclear weapon will give any immunity to Iran," Kouchner said in an interview conducted in English with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper during a two-day visit to the region.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is due to start a two-day visit to Russia on Monday with Iran’s controversial nuclear program at the top of the agenda.

Israeli media say the Jewish state is concerned by the possible sale of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, its arch-foe.

Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed concern over reports that Russia was willing to sell weapons to Syria, another longtime foe of the Jewish state.

(AFP via

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