A delegation from Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federal Council, have met in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud for talks about the war in Syria.
Federation Council Deputy Speaker Ilyas Umakhanov told Interfax after the April 16 meeting that the issue of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s future leadership had been discussed.
He said the Russian delegation, led by Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, "differed in opinion" with Saudi Arabia's king about whether Assad should remain in power.
But Umakhanov said both sides reaffirmed their willingness to “continue consultations, compare notes, and seek a settlement of the current situation in order to make their stances closer.”
Saudi Arabia and Western powers have demanded that Assad should not be allowed to stay in power under a Syrian peace settlement.
Russia has supported Assad’s government diplomatically since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011 – repeatedly vetoing Western-sponsored draft United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding Assad’s resignation and the imposition of UN sanctions against his government.
Russia also has directly supported Assad’s forces since September 2015 with military deployments and air strikes against opposition forces that were approved by the Federation Council.