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Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks: Damascus

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Beirut: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks in Moscow on Friday, an adviser to Syria’s president said.

“We will have an exchange of views on the Vienna meeting and the current situation,” said Buthaina Shaaban, who will be part of the Syrian delegation arriving in Moscow tomorrow.

Those talks follow an agreement among world powers in Vienna on an 18-month plan for Syria to create a transitional government, adopt a new constitution and hold elections.

The Vienna discussions were held without any representatives from the Syrian regime and opposition, but backers of both sides took part.

Shaaban said her government’s allies Russia and Iran were working in the best interests of the Syrian people.

“Russia and Iran are trying their best to bring the West in to understand what’s going on in Syria but the West doesn’t have the Syrian people as its top priority,” she told AFP.

“The Russians definitively understand what’s going on in Syria. They are definitively serious and honest. When they say something they implement it.”

Moscow has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the outset of the uprising against his government, which began with demonstrations in March 2011.

It launched air strikes in support of his forces on September 30. Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border today, saying the plane violated its airspace and had been warned.

Shaaban also accused the West of doing “too little, too late” to combat “terrorism”, saying France’s President Francois Hollande only acted after the Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

“I hope that international powers will get together and get rid of this cancer, but the reaction of the West is too little, too late, always, from our point of view.

“Only when it struck Paris did President Hollande start to think” about joining an alliance with countries including Russia to combat IS, Shaaban added.

“I hope that President Hollande will succeed in making an alliance with Russia, the US and other countries against IS,” she said.

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