Syria's foreign minister meets Putin, says Russia wants to boost relations with Assad

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Syria's foreign minister has met with Vladimir Putin and says the Russian president wants to expand relations with Syria's beleaguered president and improve cooperation between Moscow and Damascus.

Walid al-Moallem said his Wednesday meeting with Putin in the city of Sochi was productive. He said that during the talks Putin "confirmed the determination of Russia to develop relations with Syrian President Bashar Assad" and "strengthening the strategic partnership between our countries."

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia supports the proposal floated by the UN envoy to Syria for local cease-fires, which Assad has said is worth studying. The Islamic State group's onslaught in Syria and Iraq has given greater urgency to international efforts to find a solution for Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 200,000.