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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

(reuters_tickers)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he discussed Syria and Iran with U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of the latter's meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow is the big-power ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose advances against rebel areas close to the Israeli frontier worry the Netanyahu government. The Russians are also regular interlocutors with Iran, an adversary of Israel and the United States that has forces fighting alongside Assad in Syria.

In remarks to the Israeli cabinet, Netanyahu said that in a phone conversation on Saturday he and Trump discussed "security and diplomatic issues arising from regional developments, chiefmost among them, of course, Syria and Iran".

Netanyahu said he thanked Trump for his tough stance against Iran. The U.S. president, Netanyahu said, "reiterated with sharp clarity his commitment to the security of Israel and his willingness to help Israel in various realms".

Trump meets Putin in the Finnish capital on Monday.

Last week, Netanyahu flew out to Moscow for talks with Putin that focussed on Israel's demand that Iranian forces leave Syria.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Reuters