WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Donald Trump urged the Russian foreign minister to “rein in” Syria’s Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies, a key Israeli demand.
“President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies,” said a White House readout of the meeting Wednesday between Trump and Sergey Lavrov.
Russia has allied itself with the Assad regime in seeking to end the civil war in Syria, and Israelis increasingly fear Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, will end up with a permanent presence in the country. Israeli leaders have made a priority of raising the issue in their meetings with U.S. officials.
Trump “also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere,” the readout said. Trump later this month is scheduled to visit Israel and Palestinian areas in a bid to restart peace talks.
“The president further emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia,” the readout concluded.
Trump’s meeting with Lavrov came a day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, reportedly in part because he was unhappy with Comey’s expanding investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign last year to win the presidency.