Russia opposes calls for Assad to quit: source

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Russia opposes calls by the United States and the European Union for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the Interfax news agency said Friday, citing a foreign ministry source.

"We do not support such calls and believe that it is now that President Assad's regime needs to be given time to implement all the reform processes which have been announced," Interfax quoted a ministry source as saying.

Earlier this week EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and US President Barack Obama called on Assad to quit.

Obama also slapped harsh new sanctions on Syria, freezing state assets and blacklisting the oil and gas sector, in an escalation of pressure aimed at halting a bloody crackdown on protests that have claimed more than 2,000 lives.

© 2011 AFP

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