INTRODUCTION: Syrian President Hafez Assad began a wide-ranging settlement, with Soviet leaders soon after arriving in Moscow on Monday (18 April).
INTRODUCTION: Syrian President Hafez Assad began a wide-ranging settlement, with Soviet leaders soon after arriving in Moscow on Monday (18 April). Reports said the Soviets were keen to smooth over recent differences with Syria to obtain their support for Russian initiatives in the Middle East.
SYNOPSIS: President Assad's party received the red carpet treatment when his aircraft touched down at Moscow airport. The first person to greet the visitors was the Communist party chief Leonid Brezhnev.
The wide smiles showed that the Russians were prepared to repair bridges with Syria after differences between the two countries last year. The Soviet Union had cut off military and economic aid to censure Syria for having sent her troops to fight Palestinian and left-wing forces in the Lebanese civil war.
Mr Brezhnev and president Nikolai Podgorny headed the Soviet delegation at the first round of talks.
President Assad has come to Moscow with his prestige growing and with Russia eager to shore up her influence in the Middle East. Observers said the Soviet desire for support and Syria's changed attitude towards the Palestinians were likely to produce new harmony between the two nations.
A State dinner at the Kremlin brought a short respite in a ??? agenda. The Soviet leaders were expected to brief Mr Assad on the Moscow visit earlier this month of Mr Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization. So they were likely to discuss Palestinian representation when the Geneva talks on the Middle East result. And on Friday (22 April) Mr Assad's economics and planning ministers meet with Soviet aid experts, suggesting a new aid agreement could emerge from this visit.