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Russian envoy in Algeria for consultations on Syria

Russian envoy to Middle East, holds talks with Algerian foreign minister on the Syrian crisis, Algeria remain one of the few Arab countries that still has strong ties with Assad regime

AFP , Sunday 25 Mar 2012
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Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's Middle East envoy was in Algeria on Sunday for consultations on the deadly year-old crisis in Syria, a Russian diplomat said.

Mikhail Bogdanov, who arrived in the Algerian capital on Saturday, was holding talks with Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, the APS news agency reported.

The Russian diplomat said Bogdanov planned to discuss "joint steps" to take concerning Syria, where some 9,000 people have died since the Damascas regime launched a bloody crackdown on a popular uprising in March 2011.

Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, is expected to stay until Tuesday.

Algeria, a member of the Arab League which is holding a summit in Baghdad on Tuesday, is thought to have close ties with the Syrian regime but backed the League's decision to suspend the country last November.

The Arab League has urged an international investigation into the Syria crisis but will not call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, according to its head Nabil al-Arabi, quoted in an interview published Sunday by the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.

Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were to meet Sunday with Syria peace envoy Kofi Annan, who will also be holding talks in China on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Russia and China, both allies of Damascus, drew widespread condemnation when they blocked two UN Security Council resolutions condemning the regime crackdown in Syria.

But the two countries backed a statement at the Security Council last Wednesday demanding that Syria implement Annan's peace plan to end the bloodshed.

There are growing signs that Moscow is beginning to lose patience with Assad, despite his commitment to massive new Russian arms purchases and the granting of key naval access to the Mediterranean.

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