Syrian leader assures Russia’s Medvedev reforms are underway

Syrian President Bashar al Assad said he would do everything possible to ensure peace and boost reforms in the divided country during a telephone conversation with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday, the Kremlin press service said.

Al Assad has come under international criticism for using violent methods to suppress anti-government protesters in the Arab republic, in which up to 800 people are believed to have been killed.

“Assad said that the Syrian authorities are doing and will do everything possible to guarantee freedom of expression among Syrian citizens through peaceful means,” the Kremlin press service quoted al Assad as saying.

The Syrian authorities claim the protests are organized by Islamic extremists seeking to seize power in the country.

Assad told Medvedev on Tuesday that he would not permit the activities of extremist and fundamentalist groups.

The Russian president spoke with al Assad ahead of the G8 summit in France, at which the recent uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East is to be a focus of discussion.

“Medvedev expressed hope that the Syrian authorities would conduct the reforms outlined by al Assad as soon as possible and in a broad dialogue with the Libyan people,” the Kremlin said.

MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) 

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