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Syrian DM visits Russian warships

Updated: 2012-01-09 09:35
( Xinhua)

Syrian DM visits Russian warships

Naval personnel stand in front of the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov in the Syrian city of Tartous on the Mediterranean sea January 8, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. [Photo/Agencies]

DAMASCUS - Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha on Sunday visited Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov which docked a day earlier at Russia's naval supply facility in Syria's port city of Tartous, state-run SANA news agency reported.

The defense minister stressed the historic relations between Syria and Russia, hailing the stances of Russia in support of the Syrian people, SANA said, adding Rajha was informed of the missions of the vessels and the weapons they carried while visiting the ships.

For his part, Russian ambassador to Syria Azamat Kulmukhametov said the visit of the Russian vessels highlighted the deep-rooted relations between the two friendly countries.

"Russia is very interested in achieving the aspirations of the Syrian people in democracy and stresses the importance of implementing the comprehensive reform program," Kulmukhametov said.

On Saturday, Russian warships patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea docked in Tartous, and were received by city governor Imad Naddaf who appreciated Russia's support for Syria, according to private Addounia TV.

Commodore Yakushin Vladimir Anatolievich, head of the Russian military warships, said Saturday that the visits by the vessels is to shorten the distance between the two countries and to enhance the friendship between them, according to SANA.

Russia's state-owned Itar-Tass news agency quoted a source from the Russian navy as saying that "our ships are supposed to stay in Syria for several days," however, the report failed to give more details on the warships' missions in the country.

The move is saw by many observers as an apparent show of Russia's support with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose country is gripped by a nearly 10-month-old unrest, however, the Russian navy declined that the visit has any connection with the situation in Syria, saying it was a part of scheduled exercises.

The warships, led by "Admiral Kuznetsov," the country's only aircraft carrier, started their patrol missions in the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea on December 6 to "ensure the security of the sea navigation and other Russian maritime economic activities," according to the Russian navy.

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