Russian envoy meets Syria's Assad

29th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A senior Russian envoy delivered a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday, sources on both sides said, without divulging its contents.

"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.

The Kremlin confirmed in a statement that Medvedev had sent a message to Assad but again did not reveal the contents.

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 deadly crackdown on dissent.

Moscow staunchly opposes attempts by Western governments to push through a UN Security Council resolution targeting Assad and has circulated an alternative draft.

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 draft 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 text "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

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