World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia is not considering changing its stance on Syria and any attempts to apply pressure on Moscow are "hardly appropriate", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Wednesday.
"It would make sense to expect a continuation of the Russian Federation's consistent and well-argued line" on Syria during Putin's visit to Germany and France on Friday, Dmitry Peskov told Reuters.
Putin will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in brief visits to Berlin and Paris, part of his first foreign trip since he returned to Russia's presidency for a six-year term on May 7.
Russia, which has blunted efforts to condemn President Bashar al-Assad and push him from power over 15 months of bloodshed, has been urged to stop supporting the government after a massacre Western nations blame on Assad's forces.
"Russia is a country with a consistent foreign policy and any pressure is hardly appropriate," Peskov said when asked whether Arab and Western countries were pressing Moscow to change its position.
"Nobody has unambiguous information" about the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla and Russia believes "one should not give in to emotions at such an important moment," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said both the Syrian government and its opponents were to blame for the killings, and Moscow has called for an investigation under the aegis of the U.N. observer mission in Syria.
Russia says it supports envoy Kofi Annan's U.N.-backed peace plan, not Assad or his government, and that nations with influence over government opponents must use it more effectively to get them to abide by a ceasefire.
Speaking in France almost a year ago, Putin said Russia has no special relationship with Syria and did "not intend to give anybody cover" but emphasized Moscow's opposition to foreign interference in sovereign states.
'We have decided to suspend direct talks with the rebels to protest continuing violations of the ceasefire,' a Yemeni government official says
Military sources say at least two ISIL militants die in drone-strike operation launched from Turkey
FSA stops Democratic Union Party (PYD) terrorist group from making advances in beleaguered city despite regime support for the latter
Moderates make gains over conservatives, winning 35 seats, local media says
The latest round of attacks on Syria has compelled Qatar to request an emergency meeting to discuss the air raids on Aleppo
The Assad regime – with Russian support – has continued to target opposition-held areas of Syria's northwestern Aleppo province with fresh strikes killing 7 people
Key issues will be discussed in face to face peace talks between Yemen's warring parties
Unofficial, incomplete results from Iran's parliamentary runoff election show 33 to 40 of the 68 seats being contested went to allies of President Hassan Rouhani
Russia's state-run TASS reports US and Russia agree on 72-hour cease-fire in Latakia starting just after midnight Saturday
Syria’s Kurdish National Council slams PYD parading dead bodies of FSA fighters as 'brutal and barbaric'
'The violence is soaring back to the levels we saw prior to the cessation of hostilities,' UN human rights chief says
'This announcement came after a request from the Americans and the Russians, who met in Geneva to calm down the situation in Damascus and Latakia'
In the first four months of the year, authorities deported 14,400 expats, compared with 26,600 in the whole of 2015
Russian and Syrian warplanes have intensified attacks against civilians in Aleppo’s opposition-controlled areas
'The persistent failure of the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court is an example of the most shameful form of realpolitik,' Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says
Iranians has begun voting on Friday in a second round of parliamentary elections with allies of President Hassan Rouhani seeking to wrest seats from hardliners.