Russian envoy meets Syria's Assad
President Bashar al-Assad on Monday met a top Russian envoy who delivered a message from President Dmitry Medvedev on the situation in the protest-gripped country, a Syrian official told AFP.
"President Assad received a message this morning from President Dmitry Medvedev, delivered to him by the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov," the official said.
He said the message dealt with "Syria's steadfast position," but did not elaborate.
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin had said last week that Moscow would send an envoy to Damascus, as the UN Security Council remained divided over new sanctions on Syria over its crackdown on dissent.
Moscow staunchly opposes bids by the United States and European powers to push for a UN Security Council resolution targeting Assad, and has offered a counter-resolution.
The Russian text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, urges Syria to expedite reforms.
Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States drew up their sanctions resolution last week, but Russia and China have refused to attend informal talks on the document.
Russia has hinted that it could veto any sanctions resolution put to a vote.
Moscow's rival resolution "calls upon the Syrian government to expedite the implementation of reforms in order to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syria's people."
But it also "urges the Syrian opposition to engage in political dialogue" with the Assad government on reforms.
Churkin has said the proposed Russian resolution already had "strong support" from some nations on the 15-member council.
According to UN estimates, more than 2,200 people have been killed in the Syrian regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since mid-March.
© 2011 AFP