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Lavrov: Assad never asked Russia for political asylum

January 26, 12:39 UTC+3
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has dismissed media rumors the former head of the Russian General Staff’s intelligence directorate GRU had asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign.
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Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. Syrian President Bashar Assad has not asked Russia for political asylum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

"Nobody has asked us for political asylum. No offers of the sort have been made," Lavrov said.

He also dismissed media rumors the former chief of the General Staff’s intelligence directorate GRU, Igor Sergun, had allegedly asked Assad to step down.

"I’ve read the speculations published with reference to late Igor Sergun claiming that he had allegedly made a trip to Damascus to ask Assad to resign," Lavrov said. "This is not true. Such a conversation with Assad was not necessary."

Lavrov recalled Assad’s visit to Moscow and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin. "What they agreed on is well-known," Lavrov said. "We confirmed that in public and our president stated that Assad had agreed to enter into negotiations with the opposition including armed opposition. He agreed to form a wider anti-terrorist front on the ground for struggle against the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization) Jabhat al-Nusra and their likes."

"Also in Moscow we agreed that President Assad in the course of the political process will send a delegation and will be ready to consider political reforms that would eventually be incorporated in decisions by the Vienna Group and the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254," he said.

Kremlin on January 22 dismissed media reports Moscow had allegedly asked Assad to resign.

"No, this is not so," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The Financial Times earlier quoted anonymous sources in Western secret services as saying that Igor Sergun, the head of the General Staff’s intelligence directorate GRU had allegedly made a trip to Damascus to address Assad on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behalf with a request to leave the post of Syria’s president. The Financial Times claimed Assad had declined.

GRU chief Igor Sergun, 58, died a sudden death on January 3.

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