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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia 'Studying' Syria Peacekeeping Force Proposal

February 13, 2012

Jessica Golloher | Moscow

Russia says it is studying the proposal for a peacekeeping mission in Syria but says violence in that country should end before any mission begins.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated a cease-fire would have to take hold in Syria before peacekeepers could be deployed.

He says that Sunday the foreign ministers of the League of Arab States took a decision to start an initiative to send a peacekeeping mission to Syria - a joint mission between the Arab League and the United Nations.

But Lavrov went on to say the proposal must be studied before peacekeeping troops could be sent to its Middle Eastern ally.

He says we are studying this initiative, and we are counting on our friends in the Arab League to clarify several points.

Russia has consistently refused to back Western-led sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that dialogue between the government and opposition is needed.

The latest Arab League proposal is part of attempts to end the Syrian government's violent crackdown on dissent.

The Russian foreign minister says peace is not possible without dialogue.

He says a peacekeeping mission - or, as the United Nations describes it, a mission to support peace - must have peace to start with in order to support it.

Lavrov maintained that armed opponents of Syria’s government might not be ready to stop violence and said the current situation in Syria lacks any mechanism to halt the bloodshed.

Earlier this month, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution supported by the Arab League and Western powers. The measure called for Syria's president to cede power. Lavrov called the measure one-sided.

Russia has been an ally of Syria since Soviet times. It sells arms to the country and maintains a naval base there.

Lavrov made the comments after meeting with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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