Russian lawmakers to visit Damascus: Syrian official

12th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Russian parliamentary delegation is to visit Syria to review the situation in the country, which has been rocked by protests for six months, a Syrian official said on Monday.

"Both sides agreed to the suggestion that members of the Russian parliament visit different parts of Syria with the aim of obtaining an independent and credible account of the way things stand in Syria," Reem Haddad, head of the foreign press section in Syria's information ministry, told AFP.

She did not specify a date for such a visit, which was decided upon during a meeting between a political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and members of Russia's Federation Council, the country's upper house of parliament.

"The Russian stance is positive," Haddad said. "The meetings were cordial and the Russians are united in saying that the media cannot pass judgment without visiting the country."

Since the start of the protests in Syria earlier this year, the foreign press have largely been barred from visiting or travelling within Syria.

Haddad's remarks came after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday defended the Syrian regime against sanctions for its crackdown on protesters and warned British Prime Minister David Cameron of the dangers of such a move.

Cameron met Medvedev for talks focusing on Syria and bilateral disputes as global frustration mounted with Russia's continued support of its ally despite Assad's months-long repression of nationwide protests.

A visiting aide to Assad said 1,400 people -- half of them Syrian security and army forces -- had died in violence since the demonstrations erupted in mid-March and rejected an estimate of 2,600 deaths from UN human rights chief Navi Pillay.

© 2011 AFP

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