Russia says Syria making peace progress

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Russia stressed Wednesday it remained firmly opposed to foreign interference in Syria and believed its regional ally could reach a political compromise to help end its crisis.

The Russian foreign ministry called on Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad's regime to release political prisoners not covered by previous amnesties and called for the "immediate establishment of a legitimate democratic state."

But it also said the current level of talks between Syria's political forces was sufficient to bring an end to the deadly violence and reach a working compromise.

"We are convinced of the Syrians' ability to reach a political consensus without violence and foreign interference," the ministry said in a statement.

"Moscow welcomes the practical start of a national dialogue in Syria."

The comments were issued as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov prepared Wednesday to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said Assad had "lost legitimacy" four months into the protests while her deputy said Washington was preparing a new round of targeted sanctions against the ruling regime.

Russia and China have torpedoed previous attempts at the United Nations to impose sanctions against Syria in what France on Wednesday called "indecent" moves.

© 2011 AFP

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