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Russian Official Pledges Suspension Of New Arms Sales To Syria


Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of a meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the UN European headquarters in Geneva in late June

Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of a meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the UN European headquarters in Geneva in late June

A Russian arms official has suggested that Moscow will not deliver fighter planes or other new weapons to Syria while the situation there remains unresolved, although efforts continue to confirm such a pledge.

Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy director of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation -- a body that supervises Moscow's arms trade -- was quoted by Russian news agencies as making the statement at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain on July 9.

However, a spokesman for the service would not immediately confirm the deputy director's comments when contacted by telephone.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that, "if it were true, it would be a good sign, but we are still seeking further clarification from the Russians."

United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is engaged in intense shuttle diplomacy with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the international community in an effort to end the fighting.

Annan is in Iran, where he is expected to meet on July 10 with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Iran and Russia are the Assad regime's two major international allies. The two countries have declined to back Western calls for Assad to resign to allow a transitional government to take power.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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