DAMASCUS, March 20. /TASS/. Lawmakers of Russia’s State Duma and members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and its President Pedro Agramunt arrived in Syria on Monday.
Leonid Slutsky, chairman the State Duma’s international affairs committee who also arrived in Damascus, said the delegation is expected to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and hold talks with Speaker of the People's Council Hadiya Khalaf Abbas. Besides, the international affairs committees of the Russian and Syrian parliaments will hold a joint meeting.
The delegation is led by Vladimir Vasilyev, deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament and leader of the United Russia faction. "The Russian delegation consists of MPs from all the four factions. We invited our European colleagues - members of PACE representing there their national parliaments to join the trip," Vasilyev told reporters.
The European delegation is represented by 10 parliamentarians from Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Belgium. Among them is leader of the political group, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Jordi Xucla and chairman of the assembly’s committee on legal affairs and human rights Alain Destexhe, according to Slutsky.
"As part of these meetings, we would like to discuss issues of Syrian settlement and the possible role of parliamentarians in this process and also in solving those tasks defined at the talks in Geneva, Astana and implementing Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council at this stage," Slutsky said.
Vasilyev noted that during the trip the parliamentarians of the Council of Europe will be able to "form their personal unbiased opinion on the situation in Syria, assess efforts of Russia in the fight against international terrorism and also turn attention to the need to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people by European countries."
The visit is held at the invitation of Speaker of Syrian People's Council Hadiya Khalaf Abbas.