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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow calls for political pressure on Syria to end violence

RIA Novosti

17:12 21/06/2011 PARIS, June 21 (RIA Novosti) - International political pressure needs to be put on Syrian authorities to end the bloodshed and solve the country's internal problems, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"The leadership of any country that is affected by mass unrest, let alone bloodshed, needs to be exposed to [international] pressure," he said after a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Fillion.

Russia will work closely with its French partners in solving the Syrian problem, Putin said.

Moscow does not have a special relationship with Syria, he stressed.

"That used to be the case in the Soviet days, but not now. Today, Syria has rather a special relationship with France," Putin said.

However, he warned against any outside interference in Syria's internal affairs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow would call on the Syrian opposition to negotiate with the ruling authorities.

Representatives of the Syrian opposition will visit Moscow for talks on June 27.

Moscow has been concerned by recent claims by the Syrian opposition that it would not hold talks with the government, Lavrov said.

France and Germany said on Friday they would put a resolution condemning Syria to the vote at the UN Security Council. Russia has said it may veto the vote.

Syrian rights organizations have estimated that some 1,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 arrested in Syria since protests demanding the end of President Bashar al-Assad's authoritarian rule broke out in the country in mid-March. Foreign journalists are banned from entering the country which makes it difficult to verify the figures.

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