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Salafist society pulls out of Russia visit

Lawmakers scheduled to hold high-level meetings in Moscow

Gulf News

Manama: A Bahraini Salafist society has called for the cancellation of a planned parliamentary delegation visit to Russia in solidarity with the Syrian people.

The Bahraini lawmakers are scheduled to visit Russia on June 15-21 as part of the Bahrain-Russian Friendship Committee and hold talks with leading Duma members, the deputy prime minister and the head of the Arab-Russian chamber of commerce.

However, Al Asala, to be represented by MP Khalid Al Malood, late on Sunday wanted the cancellation of the visit.

It said that it was pulling out of the delegation, explaining that it wanted to protest against the Russian position over the situation in Syria.

“Our MP has submitted a written apology over the visit,” the society said. “The people in Bahrain and in the Arab and Muslim countries condemn the decision by Russia to extend weapons and ammunitions to the Syrian regime to slaughter and humiliate the Syrian people.”

The society said that it did not want to be part of a delegation that would sit with Russian officials, claiming that they assisted “the Syrian tyrant and Iranian gangs to rape women and to behead children, adults and old people”.

The visit by members of the parliament to Russia was announced by MP Ahmad Al Saati on Sunday following a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Bahrain Victor Smirnov.

The visit aimed to strengthen relations and broaden cooperation between the two countries while exchanging views on several issues of mutual interest.

Emotions run high in Bahrain over developments in Syria with Islamist societies assuming a leading role in raising funds for the people caught in the devastating conflict.

The Russian diplomat last week told Gulf News that the conference brokered by Moscow and Washington to bring the various sides in the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table was the most significant way to end the civil war in the Middle Eastern country.

“By confirming our commitment to a negotiated solution, we consider the international conference on Syria as the most important means to stop bloodshed,” Smirnov said. “It will be critical in overcoming the humanitarian crisis in Syria, in coordinating approaches to the problem of chemical weapons safety and in preventing further regional destabilisation,” he said ahead of Russia’s National Day celebrations.

Russia and the United States last month said that they would work on bringing together Syrian government officials and rebels at an international conference in Geneva to seek an end to the civil war.

“The purposes of developing the Geneva process aims at making the Syrians agree, without outside interference, on a common vision of the future of their homeland,” Smirnov said.

According to the diplomat, Russia “is sincerely interested in the welfare of the Syrian people and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state”.

However, he added that “taking care of interests of the Syrian people requires stopping violence as soon as possible without any preconditions”.

“Continuing the armed conflict in the country is fraught with disastrous consequences for both Syria and the region. We hope that all constructive parties inside and outside Syria including the government and the opposition will maintain a distinct course to a political settlement,” he said.