News / Middle East

Syria Tops Russia-EU Summit Agenda

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
VOA News
Russia and the European Union are beginning two days of talks overshadowed by disputes over the EU's strong backing of the Syrian opposition and Moscow's continued support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts a dinner late Monday ahead of a full day of negotiations on Tuesday.

The EU decided last week to lift its arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, clearing the way for member nations to supply weapons to anti-Assad fighters at a later date.

The summit comes as Russia and the United States continue to try to arrange an international peace conference that would bring together both the Syrian government and the opposition pushing to oust Assad.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday that the United States is not putting enough pressure on the Syrian opposition to participate in the international talks and drop its demand for President Assad's exit.

The Syrian government has said it is willing to attend such a conference in principle.  But the main opposition coalition has rejected the idea, saying talks are meaningless while Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian personnel commit alleged atrocities against the Syrian people.

Russia has opposed any kind of foreign involvement, and has used its veto power on the United Nations Security Council to block three proposed resolutions against the Syrian government.

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. (file photo)Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. (file photo)
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Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. (file photo)
Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. (file photo)
Also Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said no Russian shipments of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria would take place before 2014.  He did not elaborate on how he had arrived his conclusions.

Last week, Ya'alon warned that Israel would "know what do to" if Russia fulfilled the delivery of the S-300 system.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian warplanes pounded the embattled town of Qusair Monday as a government offensive backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters entered its third week.

A doctor in Qusair told the Associated Press that 300 seriously wounded residents need to be evacuated for medical treatment.  The AP reported that Kasem Alzein pleaded for help, saying previous evacuation efforts failed after a convoy was attacked last week.

Also Monday, four people died in clashes between Sunni and Alawite residents of the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli stoked by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Lebanon is struggling to curb the spillover of violence from Syria, where 80,000 people have died in the last two years.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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by: Andreas
June 03, 2013 12:06 PM
Those innocent civilllians who have lost their lives at the hands of the Syrian Army's indiscriminate campaign of ethnic cleansing are obviously of little concern, if any, to the Russians who are attempting to justify the export of missiles to Syria. Surely the United Nations can censure Russia if they go ahead with the missiles.
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
June 04, 2013 1:22 AM
You must have been fooled by the media of the west. Syria used to be a most peaceful place in the Middle East where all sects lived in harmony. The West is to blamed for the present situation because they have been trying to instigate hatred among sects and they have used the hand of terrorists in order to overthrow the lawfully elected government. They intend to turn the whole Syria into a second Iraq or Afganistan where people are living in a hell instead of enjoying democracy as they are always promissing.
In Response

by: Mirela from: Balkans
June 03, 2013 4:05 PM
It will be better for syrian people to live free without terrorist who ocupied syrian towns and killed innoncent people. Will be better for ordinary people if terrorists free Syrian army be driven out of Syria. Terrorists rob and kill innocent people. Government army is trying to protect them from terrorists. Assad was elected in democratic elections in the country and spark civil war with the support of the U.S. government. It pays wages through stooges terrorists to overthrow the democratically elected president.

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