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Soviet official visits Syria for high-level talks

Soviet First Deputy Premier Geidar Aliyev, the highest-ranking Soviet official to visit Syria since 1980, had a second round of formal talks with Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam Sunday. The official Syrian news agency SANA said Aliyev and Khaddam discussed the current international situation, the Middle East, and Soviet-Syrian relations.

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Aliyev's three-day visit to Syria, Moscow's closest ally in the Arab world, appears to mark the start of a new Soviet drive to increase its influence in the Middle East at the expense of the US. In a speech at a banquet Saturday Aliyev, a senior Poliburo member, pledged to Syria the Soviet Union's full support.

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