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.
Oman and Iran have signed an agreement to set boundaries between their shared boundaries in the Sea of Oman.
A Pakistani military official says raids by security forces in the port city of Karachi have killed seven gunmen
The trial of the Washington Post's Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, to open in Iran on Tuesday, a senior judicial official said.
Saudi-led jets have struck the home of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa.
The UN has urged Lebanon to choose a president, a position that has been vacant since May 2014.
The Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has denounced the infighting between Kurdish fighters as 'suicide'.
A Cairo-hosted conference for Libyan tribes is scheduled to be held in the Egyptian capital from Monday through Wednesday
This is the first time pro-Muslim Brotherhood figures from Libya will attend a meeting in Cairo
A delegation from Egypt's Foreign Ministry had received the tribal leaders at the airport.
Turkey and the United States have agreed on a deal to provide air support for some forces on the Syrian opposition.
The Egyptian army has destroyed 521 entry points to the underground tunnels that border the Gaza strip.
Mohamed al-Falahgi, a former lawmaker and member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, died in Gamasa prison. Al-Falahgi was arrested on violence-related charges in August of 2013
The group had captured the hilltops of Quba'a and Naqar in Syria's southwestern Quinetra province
The air force carried out raids on targets including the military intelligence building and the city hospital.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting illegal payments from an American supporter, having previously been given a six-year term in a separate corruption case.
Tension is running high in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province two days after a deadly bomb attack targeted worshipers.