MOSCOW: Russian president Vladimir Putin has pledged his support for Syrian president Bashar Assad and called on all Middle East nations to join forces to fight Islamic State militants.
Russia, which has traditionally strong ties to Syria, has been seen as a key to a peaceful solution and has previously rebuffed suggestions that Assads resignation could help end the war.
Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem held talks with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday before meeting Putin at the Kremlin.
Russian news agencies quoted Mr Putin as telling the Syrian envoy that Russias policy to support Syria, the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people remains unchanged.
Putin also urged other Middle East countries to help Syria fight the armed Islamic factions that now control parts of the Syria.
The Russian leader said Moscows contacts with the countries in the region, including with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, show that everyone wants to contribute to fight this evil, he said, referring to IS.
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