Vladimir Putin to Receive Vice-President of Syria Abd Al-Halim Khaddam in Kremlin

Russian president Vladimir Putin will receive in the Kremlin vice-president of Syria Abd al-Halim Khaddam who arrived in Russia on a working visit on January 14th. RIA Novosti received this information at the press service of the head of state.

Shortly before his Moscow visit, the vice-president of Syria told RIA Novosti that he would hand over the message of Syrian leader al-Asad Bashar to the Russian president.

According to Khaddam, he plans to discuss, during the Moscow negotiations, relations between the two countries, the prospects for their development, international and regional problems, including the situation in the Middle East and around Iraq.

Abd al Halim Khaddam stressed that relations between Syria and Russia were very good and had great development prospects. "The volume and importance of our mutual interests should be objectively analyzed, and ways determined for their further development and strengthening," the vice-president of Syria stated.

Official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti that Moscow regards Syria as one of the leading states in the Middle East not only due to its economic and human potentials but also thanks to the political role it plays in the region.

The high-ranking Russian diplomat stressed that the Arab and the entire Moslem world considered the opinion of Damascus. Yakovenko believes that Syria, undoubtedly, is a key country in the comprehensive Middle East settlement.

He recalled that Russian-Syrian relations had "a long history full of important events." They have been friendly for decades and distinguished for a high level of mutual understanding and respect for each other's interests. The two countries maintain regular political contacts at all levels.

Trade and economic ties have been also fruitful, Yakovenko pointed out. Syria has built more than 200 important economic facilities, above all, in power engineering, transportation, oil production and processing industry, with the help of Russia. Official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry reported that Russian-Syrian trade turnover in 2001 made up 163 million dollars.

The visit by Abd al-Halim Khaddam to Russia will last till January 16th.

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