Russia reaffirms call for end to Syria violence
Russia on Tuesday reaffirmed its call for an end to violence and the launch of deep-rooted political reforms in Syria, during a phone call between the two countries' foreign ministers.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem that Moscow wanted to see the launch of "a broad Syrian dialogue" that could help the country find its own way out of the crisis, a Russian statement said.
It pointed to the "priority of ending violence and continuing efforts to conduct comprehensive political, social and economic reforms in Syria without delay."
It also urged the international community to pressure the Syrian opposition into holding direct talks with the government and eliminating "armed extremists and other radicals" from its ranks.
The telephone talks came less than one week after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed "enormous concern" over the level of violence hitting Russia's Soviet-era ally in the Middle East.
Russia last week also backed a UN Security Council statement condemning "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities," although it refused support firmer sanctions.
Russia has kept close ties with Syria for decades and remains one of its most important arms suppliers.
© 2011 AFP