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NOVO-OGARYOVO, March 2 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin called on the West to make Syria’s opposition agree to talks with the government.
“We propose to demand from all parties in the armed conflict to immediately cease fire and sit down at the negotiating table to begin a dialogue. It is necessary to work with the opposition. If you encourage it by arms supplies and pressure on (President Bashar) Al-Assad it will never agree to negotiations,” he told foreign editors late on Thursday.
“There is an armed civil conflict and our aim is not to help one of the parties, authorities or the opposition, but to ensure pan-Syrian reconciliation. We do not want a repetition of something like in Libya,” he added.
“We want Syria to agree on reconciliation so that they reach consensus and stop killing each other,” Putin said.
He said Russia has a position of principle regarding the resolution of such conflicts.
“The conflicting parties shall not be encouraged but compelled to sit down at the negotiating table, cease fire and switch to political procedures and reforms that are acceptable for all participants in the process,” Putin said adding actions are inadmissible if they “lead the conflict to a deadlock and make one party fully destroy the other.”
“We want reconciliation and we call for your support as the problem cannot be resolved by siding only with one party,” Putin said.
He criticized as unbalanced the UN Security Council resolution which Russia vetoed jointly with China. “I read it. It calls to withdraw all armed formations of the Syrian government from towns where they stay. But it is necessary to write that opposition should also withdraw its forces. Is it a balanced approach? And the next demand is likely to call on Assad to lie down into a coffin to get buried. He will never agree with it,” Putin said.
He refused to predict whether Assad would keep office. “It is a major internal problem. Reforms have matured long ago. But I do not know whether the Syrian society is capable of agreement,” he said.