Putin, Obama did not discuss refuge for Assad: Official

The possibility of Moscow providing asylum for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not discussed during a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama, a Kremlin official said Thursday.

"They did not discuss any destination," Putin aide Yury Ushakov said.

The two presidents spoke Wednesday, just hours after the death of Syria's defence minister in a suicide bombing in Damascus.

Ushakov also said the issue was not been touched on in a meeting Wednesday between Putin and Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reports in British and Turkish media Thursday suggested that Assad's wife, Asma, had fled to Russia after Wednesday's attack on Syria's national security headquarters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed as a "joke" earlier this month the suggestion that Moscow could offer Assad refuge.

The Kremlin has come under international pressure over its refusal to back UN resolutions against Syria, Russia's sole remaining ally in the Arab world.

But Russia says it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but that the "Syrian people" should decide his fate.

A UN Security Council vote on a tough, new Western-backed resolution was postponed in the wake of Wednesday's bombing in Damascus and has been rescheduled for Thursday.

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