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Syrian leader building ties with Moscow

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Syrian leader building ties with Moscow

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The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in the Russian capital for a four-day state visit that he hopes will herald a new era in bilateral relations. The attraction, in geopolitical terms at least, is mutual: Moscow believes the road to Damascus leads to greater influence in the Middle East; Syria considers closer ties with Russia a route out of relative isolation.

Both sides have denied reports that there is any deal for Syria to buy Russian missile systems, but there are rumours that Moscow will forgive 7.5 billion euros worth of Syria’s Soviet-era debt, leaving around three billion left to pay.