Monday, June 4, 2012

Vladimir Putin presses EU on visas but holds firm on Syria

Russian president urges Europe to shed 'stereotypes' at summit but resists western demands to get Assad to abide by ceasefire

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said the European Union must ditch its "stereotypes" about Russia and called for swift progress on visa-free travel between his country and the EU at a summit overshadowed by the crisis in Syria.

Putin's stance on Syria and his appetite for closer ties with Russia's largest trading partner were in the spotlight at his first meeting with the EU since he returned to the Kremlin last month for a six-year term.

Moscow has resisted western efforts to condemn the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and remove him from power during 15 months of bloodshed. Western nations blame Assad's forces for the deaths of at least 9,000 people. Read More