Russia plays down minister's Syria comments
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
In this Monday, July 11, 2011 file photo from left : European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Yakovlev, attend a dinner at the State Department in Washington. AP PhotoThe Russian foreign ministry on Friday distanced itself from comments by a top diplomat who said that the defeat of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the Syria conflict could not be excluded.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told a meeting of the Public Chamber official oversight body that Assad's government was losing more and more territory in Syria, in what was seen as a significant change in tone by Moscow.
"We would like to remark that he (Bogdanov) has made no statements or special interviews with journalists in the last days," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
Lukashevich confirmed that the hearing with the Social Chamber had taken place but said Bogdanov had "once again confirmed the principled Russian position about the lack of alternative to a political solution in Syria." It is not clear if Bogdanov -- a diplomat with little record of making explosive comments -- was aware that his remarks Thursday were on the record and would be reported by Russia's news agencies.