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Mideast unaffected by Russian arms sales to Syria - Lavrov

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Russian arms sales to Syria do not disturb the balance of forces in the Middle East, Russia's acting foreign minister said Monday.
NEW YORK, September 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian arms sales to Syria do not disturb the balance of forces in the Middle East, Russia's acting foreign minister said Monday.

"All of our sales are completely transparent and in line with both our international obligations and our national export control laws - some of the toughest in the world," Sergei Lavrov said.

He said Russia sells weapons to Syria, as well as to many other countries.

"In this respect, we are doing exactly what many other arms producers are doing," he went on, adding that Russia supplies mainly defensive weapons incapable of destabilizing the situation in the region.

Lavrov also said Russian arms contracts expressly prohibit the resale of Russian weapons and that there is an effective inspection mechanism in place.

"Therefore, if anyone has evidence suggesting that obligations forbidding the transfer of weapons are being violated, we are always ready to investigate," he said.

The U.S. and Israel have repeatedly accused Russia of supplying arms to Syria, thus upsetting the balance of forces in the Middle East.

During last year's military campaign in Lebanon, Israeli authorities accused Syria of transferring Russian-made anti-tank missile systems, subsequently used against Israeli infantry and armor, to the Lebanon-based Shiite movement Hezbollah. However, Israel failed to produce any conclusive evidence to substantiate its allegations.

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