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Russia has no plans to build navy bases in Syria - FM Lavrov

RIA Novosti

21/02/2007 15:04 MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister Wednesday denied reports about an alleged Russian-Syrian agreement to establish Russian Navy bases on Syria's Mediterranean coast in Tartus and Latakia.

Media have reported that Russia plans to build navy bases in Syria. The reports were probably based on the fact that Russia has a Navy maintenance site in the port of Tartus, which the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier will continue to function as a maintenance site.

"Russian military ships have repeatedly called on Syrian ports... However, there is no talk about any Russian naval bases or plans to expand our presence in the Mediterranean Sea, not to mention the Persian Gulf," Sergei Lavrov told a Lebanese weekly.

Lavrov said Russia is not competing with either the U.S. or with NATO but is trying to raise its defense capability by the most reliable and cost effective means.

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