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19 Dec, 2006 15:00

Russia and Syria discuss Middle East peace process

Russia and Syria discuss Middle East peace process

Russian president Vladimir Putin has met Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, who is currently in Moscow on a working visit. The leaders discussed the prospects of co-operation as well as ways to make the Middle East more secure.

Bashar Al-Assad is the latest among a number of Middle East leaders to come to Moscow in recent months.

The Syrian president stressed that Russia's growing role on the world stage made the outcome of their talks particularly important for the region.

Bashar Al-Assad said Syria was interested in bringing security to the Middle East. Russia is believed to be able to help. Experts said the timing of the current talks is crucial.

Before Mr Assad, we had visits by the Egyptian President, the Lebanese Prime Minister, the Israeli Prime Minister, and before that we received a Hamas delegation. At the moment, Russia is the only country linked to all of them. We are the only ones in the Middle East Quartet linked to all the sides of the conflict,” emphasised Leonid Medvedko, Chief Researcher at the Russian Academy for Oriental Studies and the director of the New Eurasia Analytical Centre.

Furthermore, after talks with Vladimir Putin the Syrian president called on Russia to become a mediator in the crisis.

“I can say for sure that Russia could become a sponsor of the Middle East peace process and play this role very efficiently. Naturally, we have to take into account our vision of the situation because Russia and other countries have been co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process in past years,” said Mr Assad.