MOSCOW - Russia dismissed suggestions on Thursday that it was planning to offer political asylum to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"It (rumors about Russia granting asylum to Assad) is either an attempt to mislead serious people dealing with foreign policy or a lack of understanding of Russia's position," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference.

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He also said Abdelbasset Sida, the new leader of the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council, would visit Moscow for talks next week.