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.
Under current Swiss laws, an applicant has to be on Swiss territory to lodge an asylum request.
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militia defeat Daesh in al-Dour town.
Floods – said to be the worst in 90 years – affected Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
The streets of Mogadishu saw heavy deployments of security personnel, who set up checkpoints in order to search cars and check passengers' IDs
Several Israelis were killed or wounded amid a rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis as tension in the region mounts.
An Iraqi antiquities official confirmed the news, saying the destruction began after noon prayers on Thursday and that trucks that may have been used to haul away artefacts had also been spotted at the site.
Mogherini told a foreign policy conference in the Latvian capital that she was committed to bringing the Iranian nuclear talks to a positive end.
The postponement of the local elections is the second time they have been pushed back.
Navalny strikes defiant tone after murder of ally Nemtsov with plans to go to Nemtsov's grave later on Friday
The source said that the three injured - a woman and her daughter who hail from the slain girl's family as well as a young man - have undergone shrapnel removal surgeries
Kurdish and Iraqi sources say the extremist group also vandalised a historical site in the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
Kenya is home to 3 out of the world's 5 living northern white rhinos
The country's import bill hit $2.8 billion in 2014 against $1.3 billion in export earnings