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Syrian president meets Russian FM amid violence surge

(Xinhua)

08:16, February 08, 2012

DAMASCUS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started talks Tuesday with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the current situation in Syria, state-run SANA news agency.

Lavrov arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus Tuesday with Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov for talks with al-Assad on ways of accelerating steps of democratic reforms in the country, which has witnessed a dramatic surge in violence over the past few days.

Upon arrival, Lavrov's motorcade drove slowly through hundreds of thousands of Syrians who lined up along the highway leading to the presidential palace where the Russian top diplomat was due to meet with al-Assad.

The crowds were seen waving banners and the Syrian and Russian flags, in a show of gratitude to the double-veto by Russia and China that blocked a UN Security Council resolution against Syria.

Russia and China on Saturday vetoed an Arab-European draft resolution that backs an Arab League plan to promote a regime change in Syria. Russia said the draft contains imposition of conditions on the dialogue and called for measures to influence not only the government but also armed groups.

The double-veto has evoked the anger of the United States, along with its western backers in addition to much of the Arab countries, which introduced an Arab plan to the Security Council to gain its backing.

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