MOSCOW, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Russia and Syria will build a strategic relationship in a bid to enhance bilateral ties and speed up cooperation, the two heads of states said on Thursday.
"Russian-Syrian relations have been developing progressively and steadily," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying during talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"Syria was and is striving to develop strategic relations with Russia, in the interests of security in the whole world," Bashar al-Assad said, hailing Russia's contribution to the settlement of the Middle East conflict.
"We know you've supported our efforts in contacts with Israel, and we're interested in the support you can give in promoting the settlement processes," the visiting Syrian leader was quoted as saying.
Kremlin officials have said that the talks will focus on the comprehensive Middle East settlement, including maintenance of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiation, normalization of the situation in Iraq, the fulfillment of the inter-Lebanese agreements made in Doha, and the Iranian nuclear issue as well as trade and economic ties.
It's Assad's first visit to Moscow since Medvedev took office in May.