Russia is still committed to delivering the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria, despite Western objections, and is also considering extending a loan to the war-torn country, Al Arabiya reported Monday.
Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that Damascus hoped to reach a deal with Moscow by the end of the year.
“We discussed it, although it is still early to talk of concrete figures,” Jamil told Russian news agencies. “We hope that the question will be solved by the end of the year, experts are now discussing it.”
Jamil also confirmed that Russia was still committed to seeing through all previous arms contracts.
“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.
Reports earlier this month said that Israel and Russia were in talks to have the S-300 shipment cancelled. Israel fears the missile system could tip the balance in the region and make it more difficult to halt the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorists.
Lavrov said the Syrian government and opposition must work together to expel all “terrorists and extremists from Syria.”
“We are continuing to meet with the government and all opposition groups to convince them all to accept the initiative to convene the international conference as soon as possible,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.
According to AFP, he added, “Unfortunately, most of the opposition, in contrast to the government, is not showing this readiness.”
The meeting between Jamil and Lavrov comes amid talks between Moscow and Washington to hold a peace conference in Geneva in the coming months.
Jamil called on the organizers of the conference to invite Syria’s ally Iran, saying it is crucial for its success.
“Iran’s presence is needed just as much as the presence of other parties like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,” he said. “Excluding any such party narrows down the conflict and delays its resolution.”
Violence has continued to flair in Syria’s ongoing civil war that has left more than 90,000 dead. At least 82 people were killed in violence across Syria on Sunday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which relies on a network of activists and medics for its information.