Putin visits UK for Syria talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet David Cameron at Downing Street today for talks on the Syrian crisis. After the meeting, the President will visit the ExCel centre to watch the Olympic judo competition.

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Black belt Putin watches Olympic Judo with Cameron

David Cameron and Vladimir Putin watch the Women's Judo semi-final Credit: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin watch the action during the women's judo semi-final in London. The pair met earlier today at Downing Street for talks on the Syrian crisis.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet to discuss the Syrian crisis Credit: Sang Tan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Amnesty urges PM to raise Pussy Riot issue with Putin

Rights group Amnesty International has urged the Prime Minister to raise the case of punk band Pussy Riot with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who is visiting the UK today.

The group of leading musicians are on trial and facing prison for performing what they say was a "legitimate protest". Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen said:

During Mr Putin's time in high office, Russia has become increasingly intolerant of legitimate dissent and the Pussy Riot trial is just the latest example of this.

By putting a group of women in balaclavas on trial, Russia's own mask has slipped.

David Cameron should politely - but firmly - tell it like it is on the Pussy Riot case: the trial is a disgrace and the charges should be dropped immediately.

Russia will not back UN General Assembly Syria resolution

The Russian Foreign Ministry said today it would not back a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria at the UN General Assembly, saying it was unbalanced and would not help end the violence in the country.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the draft placed "full responsibility" for what is happening in th country "solely on the Syrian authorities" and made no demands on the opposition.

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Learning judo with President Putin

Vladimir Putin will be visiting the London 2012 judo competition today. The Russian President, who is a judo enthusiast and a black belt holder, presented an instructional DVD in the martial art in 2008. This video is in Russian.

Learning Judo with Vladimir Putin first gives viewers an insight into the martial art, before going on to demonstrate a series of throws and holds.

US and Jordan agree Assad must step down

A spokesman for US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the Pentagon chief and Jordan's King Abdullah agreed that Syrian leader Bashar Assad must give up power, the Associated Press reported.

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and Jordanian King agree Assad must step down. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Spokesman George Little made the statement after Mr Panetta met with the king in Amman today, as part of his tour to the Middle East and North Africa.

Sir Menzies urges caution over backing Syrian rebels

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has urged caution over direct backing for Syrian insurgent groups, after unconfirmed reports suggested that President Barack Obama authorised covert aid to Syrian rebels.

Sir Menzies Campbell urges caution over direct backing for Syrian insurgent groups. Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

Sir Menzies said: "Our justifiable anger at the barbarism of the Assad regime and its indiscriminate use of force should not blind us to the fact that elements of the insurgency are unscrupulous and wholly indifferent to human rights and religious tolerance.

"Syria is hardly likely to emerge as a liberal democracy if the Assad regime falls, but we should be careful in case, by our actions, it is replaced by a regime which displays the same intolerance. The United Nations route, however difficult, is still the best choice."

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