Russian envoy to meet both sides in conflict
YAROSLAVL, Russia — A Russian envoy said Thursday he is to meet with representatives of both sides in the Syrian conflict to help broker a political settlement that would keep President Bashar Assad in power.
Mikhael Margelov, a Russian presidential envoy to the region, told journalists on the sidelines of an international policy forum in Yaroslavl that Moscow has been trying to convince both sides that the chance for dialogue is not yet lost.
He made it clear that Moscow continues to support Mr. Assad, despite the Syrian government’s violent crackdown on the opposition, and warned the West that the ouster of another secular leader in the Middle East could lead to unintended consequences.
Mr. Assad “is young, he is well-educated, he is broad-minded and we think that he has a chance for modernization in his country if the ruling class of Syria becomes more open-minded, more receptive to new ideas,” Mr. Margelov said.
He said he will meet with representatives of Syria’s opposition Friday in Moscow, and then on Monday with Assad adviser Buthaina Shaaban.
Russia opposes a draft U.N. Security Council resolution backed by European nations and the United States that would impose an arms embargo and other sanctions on Syria. Moscow has introduced a rival resolution calling for the Assad government to halt its violence against protesters and expedite reforms.
Police detain two suspects, search Islamic center
BERLIN — Berlin police on Thursday detained two men suspected of obtaining ingredients for a bomb after foreign intelligence agencies tipped off German authorities to a potential threat, officials said.
The men were detained three days before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and followed a weekend statement by the interior minister that threats to Germany remained “real and intensive.”
Officers searched an Islamic center in Berlin where the pair had spent time and the apartments of the two suspects, a 24-year-old German of Lebanese descent and a 28-year-old from Gaza, a police spokesman said.
The men, who were not otherwise identified, are suspected of working together to plan “a violent criminal act,” and police had watched them for several months, the spokesman said.
A high-ranking security official told the Associated Press that foreign intelligence agencies informed German authorities in late June that the pair posed a potential threat.