- 22 updates
London Mayor Boris Johnson joked today that Russia's President Vladimir Putin might join in on the judo when he visits the Olympic Park later today. He said:
The video of Boris Johnson will follow shortly.
Syrian opposition activists have said that regime forces have swept through neighbourhoods south of the capital Damascus in a deadly military operation that has inflicted casualties, according to the Associated Press.
Activists estimated that dozens of people have been killed. The figure could not be independently verified.
Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported that army forces have raided rebel hideouts, in the southern suburbs of the capital, and killed and arrested "a number" of militants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be welcomed to Downing Street today before attending the final stages of the London 2012 judo competition - a martial art in which he holds a black belt.
The Russian President, who is a judo enthusiast, presented an instructional DVD in the martial art in 2008.
Russia has "no specific interest" in Syria, compared with other countries in the West and in the region, an adviser to Russia's President Vladimir Putin said today.
Sergei Markov told Radio 4's Today programme that Moscow believed the international community's support for Syrian opposition forces was "irresponsible" as some of those fighting the Assad regim were "very close to al-Qaeda and radical Islamists". Mr Markov said:
A member of the Berri clan, Abdul Fawaz al-Jais, who's cousin and brother were among those reportedly executed in Syria yesterday said "it wasn't true" that his family were pro-Assad militia, the Independent has reported.
In an interview with the newspaper, Mr al-Jais, a 47-year-old businessman said:
Up to 3 million Syrians are in need of food, crop and livestock assistance in the coming year, the World Food Programme said, citing a United Nations report.
The joint assessment by the UN and the Syrian government found that the Syrian agricultural sector has lost $1.8 billion this year as a result of the crisis in the country. Strategic crops, such as wheat and barley, have been badly affected. WFP Syria's Representative Muhannad Hadi said:
President Barack Obama has signed a secret "intelligence finding" authorising covert aid to Syrian rebels seeking to depose President Bashar Assad and his government, NBC News has reported.
According to Reuters, President Obama's order, approved earlier this year, broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help rebels oust President Assad.
The widow of Alexander Litvinenko, the murdered Russian spy, has called on Londoners to wear a white ribbon in protest at Vladimir Putin's visit to the Olympics, according to The Telegraph.
Marina Litvinenko, whose husband was allegedly poisoned by a Russian spy with radioactive polonium 210 at a London hotel in December 2006, said she was "dismayed" at the news. Mr Cameron is under pressure to raise the issue of Mr Litvinenko ahead of his meeting today with President Putin.
Mrs Litvinenko added: "I am sure that my husband, if he were alive, would have been among those protesters".
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet David Cameron at Downing Street today for talks on the Syrian crisis. Daybreak's Richard Gaisford reports:
A group of musicians have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to give a fair trial to punk band Pussy Riot who face "preposterous" charges against them, in a letter published in The Times (£).
The President - who is in London for Syria talks today - is facing criticism over the trial of the all-woman group, who wore balaclavas at a Cathedral in Moscow and called for Putin to be removed from power by the Virgin Mary.
Among the signatories of the letter were: Pete Townshend; Jarvis Cocker; Alex Kapranos, of Franz Ferdinand; Johnny Marr, the former Smiths guitarist; Corinne Bailey Rae; and Neil Tennant, of the Pet Shop Boys.
They wrote: "Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".