Activists picket the US Consulate in St.Petersburg on September 2, 2013, to condemn plans for military action in Syria
Activists picket the US Consulate in St.Petersburg on September 2, 2013, to condemn plans for military action in Syria. Russian authorities are planning to send a parliamentary delegation to the United States for talks with Congress over Syria, in a move publicly endorsed Monday by President Vladimir Putin. © Olga Maltseva - AFP
Activists picket the US Consulate in St.Petersburg on September 2, 2013, to condemn plans for military action in Syria
AFP
Last updated: September 2, 2013

Russia to send delegation to US Congress for Syria talks

Russian authorities are planning to send a parliamentary delegation to the United States for talks with the Congress over Syria, in a move publicly endorsed Monday by President Vladimir Putin.

"The initiative is very timely and correct," Putin told speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament Valentina Matviyenko and speaker of the lower house of parliament Sergei Naryshkin.

"Holding direct dialogue with the US parliament on the Syrian problem" will be a significant contribution to Russian-American relations, Putin said.

The carefully choreographed Kremlin meeting comes after US President Barack Obama stunned the world on Saturday by delaying military action against Syria and saying he would seek authorisation from the Congress.

The latest Kremlin initiative appears aimed at persuading the US Congress to vote down Obama's request, although it is unclear what sway the Russian delegates could have over US lawmakers.

"We would like to address the Senate and the Congress," said Matviyenko, noting the delegation would try to travel to the United States before September 9 when US lawmakers return from their summer recess.

Russia has supported the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the two and a half year conflict and has repeatedly blocked any attempts to punish his regime at the UN Security Council.

Obama's administration says Assad's forces used nerve agent sarin to kill more than 1,400 people in a Damascus suburb on August 21. Putin has said that the idea Assad's forces could have used such weapons is "utter nonsense."

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