Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Mikhail Fradkov, will visit Syria on February 7 for talks with President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made the surprise announcement following Mr. Lavrov's talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.

Remains opposed

Mr. Lavrov told Russian television that Moscow remained opposed to the U.S-pushed Security Council draft resolution on Syria even after Western powers agreed to soften it. He said the draft was heavily biased against the Syrian government as it called for an immediate withdrawal of government troops from cities and towns but failed to demand an end to violence perpetrated by the armed opposition. Russian also wanted the Security Council to facilitate a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

Referring to U.S. insistence to put the resolution to the vote on Saturday Mr. Lavrov said: “If they want another scandal in the Security Council, I don't think we can stop them.”

However, he refused to say that Russia would use its veto right to block the resolution.

Talks with China

Mr. Lavrov on Saturday discussed the Syrian resolution on telephone with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

“The Ministers agreed to continue broad coordination and consultations on the Syrian problem at the U.N. Security Council in order to work out a balanced text of the resolution which would open the way for political settlement of the Syrian crisis,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia and China both vetoed a European-drafted resolution on Syria in the Security Council in October.

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