MOSCOW - Russia said on Sunday it was not holding any talks on the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad, dismissing speculation that it is preparing for its ally's potential exit from power.
"We are not holding any talks on the fate of Assad," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying during a meeting on Sunday.
"All attempts to present the situation differently are rather shady, even for the diplomacy of those countries that are known for striving to distort facts in their own favour," it quoted him as saying. He also said countries criticizing Russia and China for vetoing UN Security Council resolutions on Syria were "dishonest."
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