Russia sends top Middle East diplomat to region

Russia sent its top Middle East diplomat to the region Tuesday amid international efforts to halt the persistent fighting. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dispatched Alexander Saltanov, a deputy and special Mideast envoy, for talks with leaders in the region, the ministry said in a statement. Talks would involve "a search for paths to the swiftest possible halt to bloodshed and violence," attempts to prevent escalation and nudge the parties toward nonviolent resolutions of their disputes, the ministry said.