Feb. 7 - Large crowds in the Syrian capital Damascus greet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov . Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Hundreds of flag-waving supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lined the streets of Damascus to welcome Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. Lavrov and Russian Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov are in Damascus to meet Assad three days after a Russian-Chinese veto of an Arab-backed U.N. resolution on Syria caused world-wide outrage. Moscow and Beijing were the only members of the 15-member U.N. Security Council to vote against the resolution backing an Arab League call for Assad to yield power and start a political transition. The double veto prompted unusually undiplomatic Western criticism. Lavrov has defended the veto, saying it prevented the Security Council from taking sides in a civil war. He said Russia was pressing Assad's government to implement reforms more swiftly.