An internationally isolated Bashar al-Assad is visiting Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
Syria and Russia have long-standing political and economic ties. Last year, Moscow wrote off nearly three quarters of Syria’s 10 billion euro debt.
On the agenda are peace efforts in the Middle East, interfactional tensions among Palestinians and the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon.
They will also discuss Russian arms sales to Syria which are strongly criticised by Israel. It says many of these weapons ended up in the hands of Hezbollah fighters during the recent conflict in Lebanon.
Assad’s visit follows Putin’s talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
He claims to have secured Russia’s backing in his struggle against the pro-Syrian opposition which continues to stage daily protests in Beirut demanding the government resign.
Some are concerned opposition calls for early elections could complicate efforts to end the country’s worst political crisis since the civil war.