WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said President Donald Trump's Syrian policy is allowing Iran to gain a foothold to threaten Israel.

Menendez, who recently reclaimed his position as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at its annual legislative conference that Trump's efforts to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin on resolving the Syrian civil war are misguided.

"Hand in hand, criminal and terrorist, Putin and Assad have cleared a path for the Iranian regime to expand its military footprint," Menendez said. "We risk willfully disregarding this reality if we cling to a repeatedly failing policy of 'negotiating' with Russia."

Any agreement with Russia in Syria, Menendez said, is "paving the way for Iran to stay in Syria. That's why it's well past time for the president to recognize that in Syria, here at home, or around the world, Russia is not a partner for stability or peace."

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