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Putin: Dialogue can end Syria’s ‘massacres’
April 6, 2013, 12:13 am

The UN has called for donations to help Syrian refugee camps such as the above [Getty Images]

The UN has called for donations to help Syrian refugee camps such as the above [Getty Images]

Russia says it has contributed $1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for humanitarian operations in Syria as the Kremlin reiterates its position that only dialogue will resolve the two-year civil war.

“During the entire crisis in Syria, Russia has been supporting the ICRC’s active efforts in providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

More than 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, according to UN estimates.

UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Ibrahimi has previously warned that unless both sides initiate dialogue, the death toll could go well over 100,000.

The UN Relief Agency says that there are now more than one million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, which on its own hosts some 400,000.

President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia is not looking to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and wants the conflicting parties to negotiate and stop the “massacre,” putting an end to the “catastrophe”.

“We do not think that Assad should leave today, as our partners suggest. In this case, tomorrow we will have to decide what to do and where to go,” Putin told German broadcaster ARD in an interview at his Novo-Ogarevo residence near Moscow on Friday.

He cited Libya as an example, which, according to him, “has already split into three parts.” Previously, Russian officials have cited the fall of the regime of Muammar Qaddafi as a reason for Al-Qaeda’s influence in Mali and the emboldened attack on a gas facility in Algeria in January.

“We don’t want a situation that is just as difficult as in Iraq. We do not want to have a situation of the same difficulty as in Yemen, and so on,” he said.

Putin also reiterated that Russian supplies of weapons to Syria are legal, while supplying arms to rebels fighting the authorities contradicts international norms and laws.

“First of all, there are no bans on arms supplies to incumbent legitimate governments. Secondly, only recently the opposition received 3.5 tons of arms and ammunition through airports near Syria,” he said referring to an article in The New York Times last week.

“There are international legal norms stating that it is inadmissible to supply arms to armed groups that strive to destabilize the situation in a certain country with the use of weapons,” he added.

Last week, The New York Times reported that the US has recently been assisting Turkey and Arab nations in boosting their arms deliveries to Syrian rebels.

Putin also said that French President Francois Hollande, who visited Moscow last month, has interesting ideas on how to solve the ongoing conflict in Syria, and Russia is ready to support them.

Last week, Syria’s seat in the Arab League was given to the opposition, which some Arab states recognise as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Moscow vowed to prevent any such similar move in the UN.

RIA Novosti and Agencies

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