WASHINGTON – The Obama administration expressed willingness to negotiate with Russia over providing European countries with a missile defense shield if the Russians decrease their role in supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to informed Middle East security officials.
Last March, President Obama was overheard promising then-Russian President Dimitri Medvedev he would have more “flexibility” to deal with Moscow on the sensitive missile shield issue after he is re-elected.
The Middle East officials further disclosed a White House pledge to Russia to ensure against an attack on Iran. Instead of an attack, the U.S. would press for growing mediation with Tehran on condition the Russians essentially stop supporting Assad.
For its part, Russia is demanding a U.S. pledge that there will be no international military deployment in Syria if Moscow accepts the U.S. conditions, the Middle East security officials said.
Asked for comment, a Syrian government source reached by WND said Damascus is “confident” about the continued Russian support for Assad despite any ongoing talks with the Obama administration.
The Syrian source further claimed Turkey is stepping up training to the rebels targeting Assad’s regime and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are increasing the flow of weapons to the rebel groups.
The claim that the Obama administration is putting the missile shield for Poland on the table in talks with Moscow comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a television interview yesterday that Obama is willing to revive talks on the planned U.S. missile shield in Europe.
Putin claimed a “military lobby” and “conservative” State Department are restraining Obama.
“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if President Obama is re-elected for a second term? In principle, yes, it is,” Putin told the Russian news channel RT.
“But this isn’t just about President Obama,”Putin said. “My feeling is that he is a sincere man and that he sincerely wants to implement positive change. But can he do it, will they let him do it? There is … the military lobby, and the Department of State, which is quite conservative.”
Obama’s private promise to the Russians of “flexibility” was made at an international summit in Seoul March 26.
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama told Medvedev.
Medvedev replied: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you.”
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said.
Medvedev said: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Meanwhile, officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran met in Cairo yesterday to discuss the violence in Syria, but the deeply divided countries reportedly did not reach a consensus on how to approach the issue.
Also yesterday, a car bomb in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, reportedly killed at least 30 civilians, according to state media, which blamed the attack on the U.S.-supported opposition.