Syria's foreign minister today passed on the personal thanks of President Bashar al-Assad to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for his support, as he held talks in Moscow amid growing expectations of US military strike against the regime.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem held talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov as US lawmakers were to return today from a summer break and debate whether to approve a limited attack on Syria.
"The president asked me to pass on his thanks to Vladimir Putin for his position during and after the G20 summit" in Saint Petersburg last week, Muallem told Lavrov at the start of talks.
Lavrov assured Muallem that Moscow's position on Syria was "well known and not subject to changes".
"There is no alternative to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria" Lavrov said, rejecting any "military solution involving outside intervention".
Russia has vehemently opposed US-led strikes against the Assad regime, warning it could destabilise the whole Middle East, and Vladimir Putin at the G20 has vowed to help Syria if it was hit.
Moscow has also made clear it is unconvinced the regime was behind a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on August 21 that the United States and its allies say was carried out by the government and demands retribution.
Muallem told Lavrov that the US military intervention could destroy attempts to convene a peace conference in Geneva to end the bloodshed.
"Right up to now we are ready (to take part). But I do not know what could happen after an American aggression. It's possible the rockets will land and wreck this conference," he said.
His visit comes days after Vladimir Putin refused to give ground on Russia's position over Syria in talks with world leaders at the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin held an unscheduled meeting with US President Barack Obama but said afterwards that the two had failed to narrow their differences.
"He (Obama) disagrees with my arguments, I disagree with his arguments," Vladimir Putin stated with characteristic bluntness.
Despite insistent Western pressure, Russia has refused to abandon its cooperation with the Assad regime throughout the two-and-a-half year conflict that