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‘Russia Syria jet deal news reports concerning’

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 11:24

Washington: The US has expressed concern
over reports that Syria has inked a USD 550 million contract to purchase advanced training fighter jets from Russia.

"If it is accurate, it would be quite concerning," State
Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters when
asked about reports that Russia would be supplying combat jets
to Syria. A top US diplomat visiting Moscow would raise this
issue with Russian authorities, Nuland said.

The deal was signed in December with Russia`s
Rosoboronexport state defence corporation, a news report cited
a source close to the agency as saying. The production
of the jets would begin once the advance payment was made.

"We, as you know, had Deputy Secretary (William) Burns in
Moscow about a week ago. Among the issues he talked about was
Syria. We have today NEA (Near Eastern Affairs) Assistant
Secretary Jeff Feltman in Moscow. I think it may be his first
visit to Moscow," she said.

Issue number one on his agenda there is Syria and our
interest in being able to move forward in the UN Security
Council and talking about how the situation looks after the
Arab League report over the weekend.

"So I`m sure that Jeff will be raising these concerns as
well," Nuland said.

"We`ve raised it a number of times. With regard to this
latest incident, we`ll obviously be inquiring about it.I don`t
think we`ve seen anything but press reports at this moment,"
she said.

"As we`ve been saying for months, our firm belief is that
any country that is still trading in weapons and armaments with Syria really needs to think twice, because they are on the wrong side of history and those weapons can be used against innocents, and have been," Nuland said.
Every time we talk to the Russians about Syria, we make
the point about how dangerous we think it is to be continuing
to trade in weapons, and encouraging them to do what they can
to stop such trade, she said.

"So with regard to these new reports, they came up today,
we`ve sent them on for Ambassador Feltman to raise with the
Russians, but I don`t have anything further to report.
So obviously, we`re going to talk about that situation,"
Nuland said when asked about the news reports.

"We also need to talk about how we move forward in the
main organisation where Russia has responsibilities, where the
United States has responsibilities, where all the permanent
members of the Security Council have responsibilities for
peace and security.

We`ve felt for some time that the UN has not done
enough, so that`ll be a key issue on the agenda," Nuland said.


First Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 11:24
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