Feb. 7 - Russian FM Sergei Lavrov begins talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, says Syria committed to stopping violence. Nick Rowlands reports.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus. Lavrov is meeting with Assad three days after a Russian-Chinese veto of the Arab-backed U.N. resolution calling for a transfer of power. The veto caused international outrage. But Lavrov defended the veto, saying it prevented the Security Council from taking sides in a civil war. Hundreds of flag-waving supporters of President Assad greeted Lavrov on his arrival in the Syrian capital. According to Russian media, Lavrov began his talks with Assad by saying Moscow wants Arab peoples to live in peace, and the Syrian leader is aware of his responsibility. He said Assad has assured him Syria is committed to stopping the violence by all sides. But activists claim Syrian forces have launched a fresh assault on the city of Homs, viewed as a hub of protest and armed opposition against Assad. They say 95 people were killed during sustained shelling on the city on Monday, and more than 200 on Friday night. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.