posted on Jan, 25 2005 @ 09:13 PM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defended his country's right to purchase Russian anti-aircraft missiles despite protests from Israel.
However, Mr Assad, on a four-day visit to Moscow, said no contracts would be discussed on this occasion.
Russia signalled it was ready to write off billions of dollars in Syrian debt that dates back to Soviet times.
At a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Mr Assad called for a greater Russian role in the Middle East.
He said "the Arab world attaches great hope to a strengthening of Russia's position" in the region.
Mr Putin told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday that the sides had held "rich and extremely productive talks".
Russia agreed to write off 73%, or $9.8bn, of Syria's $13.4bn net debts to Moscow, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.
Both sides insisted that sales of Russian missiles to Syria were not on the agenda.
This is most defenately gonna anger the Isrealis & U.S.
" target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow"> news.bbc.co.uk...
[edit on 25-1-2005 by Horus_Re]