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Middle East

Russian envoys met Bashar al-Assad, discuss regional issues

Several Russian envoys met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and discussed a constitutional committee, trade, as well as the ways to improve Syria’s relations with neighboring Arab countries, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Formation of a constitutional committee is key to political reforms and new elections meant to unify Syria and end an eight-year war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced about half of Syria’s pre-war 22 million population.

Syria’s opposition last year agreed to join the process of rewriting the constitution under U.N. auspices following a peacemaking conference in the Russian city of Sochi.

Russia has been a close ally of Assad and in 2015 launched a military intervention there to support his forces, turning the tide of the war in Assad’s favor.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Friday that Assad met Russia’s Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin and several Russian Defence Ministry officials.

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