Russian parliament representatives have expressed readiness to become international observers in the expected presidential election in Syria.
"Russian MPs have great experience of international monitoring and at the meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today we said we are ready to take part in the Syrian presidential election as international observers," Alexander Yushchenko, a Communist State Duma deputy who arrived in Damascus with the Russian delegation, told Interfax on Sunday.
The delegation that arrived in Syria on Saturday for humanitarian purposes also includes Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin, State Duma property committee member Sergei Gavrilov of the Communist Party, members of the Duma inter-faction group for the protection of traditional Christian values, and members of some non-governmental organizations, including religious ones.
During the talks with the president Gavrilov who heads the delegation handed a message of greeting from State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and a souvenir with a picture of the State Duma building to al-Assad.
Yushchenko on behalf of Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov handed a decoration on the 70th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad and a souvenir picturing Marshal Georgy Zhukov that together symbolize victory in the Great Patriotic War.
In the process of exchanging greetings Yushchenko noted that al-Assad is the general secretary of the Arab Socialist Baath Party with which Russian Communists have long-standing friendly relations. In response the Syrian leader recalled the 60-years-long history of warm relations between the two parties.
The Syrian leader warmly thanked for the presents.
Yushchenko shared the details of the meeting. He said that al-Assad very warmly spoke of Russia's stance at the talks on the settlement of the Syrian conflict and conveyed his gratitude to President Vladimir Putin.
"In the West Putin is often called a dictator or tsar. If he had surrendered his positions regarding Syria, he would have been called a democratic president but then terrorism would have spread throughout the territory of our country," al-Assad said.
Two tonnes of relief aid prepared by the Russian delegation will be delivered to Syria on Sunday. At the meeting al-Assad thanked the MP's for the aid from Russia noting that it is of great help and said that Russia is as good as its word when it comes to supporting the Syrian people.