DAMASCUS- President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On behalf of the Syrian people, President al-Assad thanked Russia for its stances at the UN Security Council and its commitment to supporting dialogue and national solutions instead of escalation and dictations practiced by some countries which do not take into consideration the interests of the Syrian people and their vision for achieving the reforms internally and without foreign interference, stressing that Syria is determined to carry out national dialogue with the participation of representatives of the government, the opposition and independent figures.
President al-Assad reviewed the current events in Syria and the timetables of the ongoing reforms as well as the nature of the terrorism practiced against the Syrian citizen and the state establishments by the armed terrorist groups which are backed by foreign sides.
President al-Assad said that Syria welcomed from the beginning any efforts exerted to support the Syrian solution to the crisis and was committed to the Arab League work plan which was approved on November 2, 2011, and that Syria cooperated fully with the Arab League observer mission in spite of the obstacles set by some Arab sides, reiterating Syria's readiness to cooperate with any efforts exerted to support stability in Syria.
For his part, Minister Lavrov said that Russia's stance at the Security Council stems from its objective and balanced assessment of the events witnessed in Syria , its respect of international law and the people's right to decide their destiny, as well as Russia's rejection of foreign interference and incitement instead of encouraging dialogue.
The Minister reiterated his country's commitment to the stability of Syria and its independent decision, in addition to its commitment to the interests of the Syrian people and the ongoing democratic reforms in Syria.
He also expressed Russia's hope in speeding up the implementation of reforms and the participation of all Syrians in a national dialogue that protects the sovereignty, security and stability of their country.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem, Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad, and Assistant Foreign Minister Abdul-Fattah Ammoura.
The delegation accompanying Minister Lavrov consists of Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Vladimir Zimakov, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department of Russia's Foreign Ministry Sergey Vershinin, and Russia's Ambassador to Damascus Azamat Kulmukhametov.
In a statement to the press after his meeting with President al-Assad, Minister Lavrov said that he conducted very important meetings with the Syrian leadership, primarily with President al-Assad, Vice President Farouk al-Shara, and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, during which he affirmed Russia's readiness to assist in emerging from the Syrian crisis as soon as possible on the basis of the Arab League plan dated November 2nd 2011.
"President al-Assad affirmed his commitment as per the Arab plan to the task of putting an end to violence regardless of its source. To this end, Syria affirms its interest in continuing work with the Arab League observer mission and increasing observer numbers to cover all points and verify any breaches or violations to the principle of not allowing violence regardless of source," he said.
He added that he had told Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabia in a phone call on Monday that Russia believes it necessary to preserve and expand the observer mission.
Lavrov stressed the need to activate dialogue with the participation of all Syrians, the government and all groups with the help of the Arab League.
"President al-Assad affirmed today that the committee which was formed to carry out dialogue with all opposition group under the chairmanship of the Vice President still has all the necessary authority to carry out this dialogue... It must be assisted by those who can, including those who reject dialogue up until now," he said.
The Russian Minister said that he mentioned the content of the letter sent by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regarding the need to expedite political reforms and undertaking constitutional reform, adding that President al-Assad affirmed that he will meet the committee tasked with preparing a new constitution as soon as possible and that a referendum on it will be held after it's official presentation, and afterwards general elections will be held with the participation of the parties formed as per the new political parties law.
Lavrov said that the results of his visit are very important and that it came just in time, adding that Russia believes that the message it sent on the need to move forward has been received.
"We believe in the necessity of continuing the efforts aiming at finding a solution and settlement to the Syrian crisis… the Russian side intends to work actively with the Syrian side and with Syria's neighbors and the Arab League… naturally, we will continue work with opposition groups which, for one reason or another, haven't agreed until now to participate in general national dialogue… we believe it's necessary for the countries that have more influence on these groups to work with them," he said.
Lavrov concluded by saying that Russia has simple and clear goals which can be summed up in not allowing the death of civilians, adding "we also believe that the region needs peace and that Syria needs peace… all external forces must assist in national dialogue and reaching national agreement and reconciliation away from interference in Syrian internal affairs."
Earlier, Minister Lavrov arrived in Damascus amid a massive popular reception in appreciation of Russia's support to Syria, people and its reform program.
Huge crowds flocked to south bypass in Mezzah to greet Lavrov and express appreciation of Russia' stances.
Similar crowds streamed to Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square in Aleppo, highly lauding Russia's positions, rejecting foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs and supporting combating terrorism.