Russian Deputy FM in Beirut for Talks with Senior Officials

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov arrived in Beirut on Thursday on a four-day official visit to hold talks with senior Lebanese officials as part of his regional tour.

The Russian diplomat will hold talks with President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati and PM-designate Tammam Salam.

He will also meet with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora and senior figures in Hizbullah.

Bogdanov's visit comes in light of the rising threats caused by the Syrian turmoil as the cross-border violations increased recently.

Lebanon has suffered a significant spillover of Syria's conflict, with frequent cross-border shelling of both Sunni and Shiite areas in the north and east.

The diplomat will also reiterate his country's commitment to aid the Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in the neighboring country.

Lebanon appealed in January for $180 million from Arab countries to help it meet the Syrian refugee influx.

The Lebanese government, which has promised to keep its border open to refugees, called in early December for 363 million dollars to cope with the influx.

The U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year conflict, which broke out after the army unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent, turning the uprising into a bloody insurgency.

Lebanon also hosts the region's biggest Syrian refugee population, which the U.N. says exceeds 430,000 people.

Bogdanov will also stress on Lebanese politicians the importance of preserving stability and preventing the conflict in Syria from having repercussions on the country.

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