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Syria urges greater role for Russia in Middle East (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) MOSCOW, Russia 01/27/05 12:56 PM ET)Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1515&ncid=1515&e=8&u=/afp/20050127/wl_mideast_afp/mideastrussiasyria_050127175641 AFP} Agence France Presse AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
MOSCOW (AFP) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad backed Russia´s efforts to play a greater role in the Middle East, saying the security of the region directly affected Moscow´s interests.

"The events in the Middle East could lead to the break-up of several countries in the region, the rise of extremism and religious and ethnic strife," Assad was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

"This could produce a domino effect that could spread to your region," said the Syrian president, who was wrapping up a four-day state visit to Russia, in apparent reference to the threat of civil war in Iraq.

"The security of the Middle East directly affects Russia," he said.

Assad said Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had a vital role in promoting peace in the Middle East.

Russia is one of the four members of the so-called quartet of international mediators in the Middle East peace process along with the United States, United Nations and the European Union.

But its influence has largely waned in recent years. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/27/05)

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