Syrian foreign minister coming to India

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Al-Muallem will pay a three-day official visit to India from January 11 during which he will meet the Indian leadership.

“He will meet External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) for bilateral talks of mutual interest. He will also meet the Indian leadership during his stay,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing.

Al-Muallem will be accompanied by four other delegation members – the vice foreign minister, the advisor to the deputy prime minister, chief of cabinet of the deputy prime minister and another official from the minister’s office.

The visit assumes importance in view of fresh initiatives taken by the UN to bring about peace in war-torn Syria, where more than 300,000 people have been killed in the past four years and seven million have fled to other countries.

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European nations have also witnessed a huge influx of Syrian refugees.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Moscow last month, held detailed talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the growing threat of Islamic State and the Syrian crisis.

Since the Paris terror attack, many Western nations have directly or indirectly established contact with the Syrian government to counter activities of the Islamic State.

Special advisor to the Syrian president, Buthina Shaban, had visited India in March 2013.

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