Syrian presidential envoy to hold talks in Moscow

Bouthaina Shaaban, a political adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, will arrive in Moscow on Saturday to discuss the current political crisis in Syria with Russian officials.

Shaaban, who has been described as the Syrian “regime’s face to the outside world,” will meet with Russian lawmakers and hold official talks with Foreign Ministry officials.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on the eve of Shaaban’s visit that the talks are part of Russia’s efforts to help resolve the current standoff between the Syrian opposition and authorities.

More than 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown on anti-government protests in Syria since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime broke out in March, according to UN estimates.

A delegation of Syrian opposition leaders arrived in Moscow on Friday on an invitation from a number of Russian non-governmental organizations to discuss the situation in the country. No official talks were held.

The delegation is headed by Ammar Qurabi, the chairman of the Syrian opposition Conference of Change group and the president of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.

Qurabi urged Moscow to play a more active part in resolving civil strife in the Middle East nation.

However, Russia is apparently taking a cautious approach to the internal conflict in Syria after learning a number of “sour” lessons from the implementation of UN resolutions in Libya.

Moscow has repeatedly criticized the bombing of Libya by a NATO-led coalition, saying that it was overstepping a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said in a recent interview with Euronews that Russia is ready to support various approaches to resolving the situation in Syria, but they should not be based on a unilateral condemnation of the Syrian authorities’ response to the popular uprising.

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