Russia is discussing extending a loan to Damascus to help its war-battered economy and is still committed to delivering S-300 missiles in defiance of the West, a top Syrian official said Monday.
Visiting Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said after meeting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that the issue of a Russian credit was discussed at the talks and Damascus hoped for an agreement by the end of the year.
"We discussed it, although it is still early to talk of concrete figures," Jamil said, quoted by Russian news agencies. "We hope that the question will be solved by the end of the year, experts are now discussing it."
President Bashar al-Assad's regime is in urgent need of new sources of cash to make ends meet as it battles rebels in a conflict that has lasted over two years and according to activists has killed over 100,000 people.
The Syrian official added that all arms agreements with Russia, including Moscow's controversial contract to deliver S-300 missile systems to Damascus, were still in place.
"All agreements between Russia and Syria in the area of arms deliveries are in place," the Syrian deputy prime minister said.
"Relations between Syria and Russia are strengthening for the good of peace in the region," he added.
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Russia has angered the West and anti-Assad Arab states by refusing to halt military and other cooperation with the Damascus regime throughout the Syria conflict.
Moscow in turn has condemned the West for openly siding with the rebels and strongly rejected the idea that Assad should step down as a precondition for talks.
Lavrov did not comment on the possible credit or arms deliveries but said Russia was pressing on with efforts to hold a peace conference to end the bloodshed in Syria as soon as possible.
He complained it was the opposition, rather than the government, that was holding up the realisation of the plan to hold the conference in Geneva.
"We are continuing to meet with the government and all opposition groups to convince them all to accept the Russian-American initiative to convene the international conference as soon as possible," Lavrov said.
"Unfortunately, most of the opposition including the (main umbrella group) Syrian National Coalition, in contrast to the government, is not showing this readiness," he added.
Russia and the United States announced back in May the plan to bring representatives of Assad's regime and the opposition around the table for talks in Geneva but so far the momentum for holding the talks has faltered.