Russia will not support use of force on Syria: Medvedev

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday Russia will not support the use of force against Syria at the United Nations, speaking about President Bashar al-Assad in sympathetic terms.

"What I am not ready to support is a resolution (similar to the one) on Libya because it is my deep conviction that a good resolution has been turned into a piece of paper that is being used to provide cover for a meaningless military operation," he said.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times whose full transcript was released by the Kremlin early Monday, Medvedev referred to a March vote at the UN Security Council which paved the way for a military operation in the North African country.

"Russia will use its Security Council permanent member rights," he said, referring to any proposed resolution on the use of force against Syria.

Medvedev said any other statements on Syria including in the UN Security Council were possible but added that he was not sure the time was right for any of them.

"Right now I am not sure that any resolution is needed because a resolution may say one thing but actions would be quite different. The resolution may say: 'We condemn the use of force in Syria' and after that planes will take off into the air.

"We will be told: 'Well, it says there that we condemn so we condemned, (and) dispatched a certain amount of bombers there.' I don't want it. In any case, I don't want to have it on my conscience," Medvedev said.

The Kremlin chief spoke in sympathetic terms about Assad, whose rule has been rocked by protests demanding greater freedoms and democracy since March.

"Syria faces a very tough choice," he said. "As a person, I feel sorry for President Assad who is in a very difficult situation. As I see it, he wants political changes for his country, he wants reforms.

"But at the same time he is somewhat late with them, hence casualties which could have been avoided and which of course will largely be on the conscience of the authorities. At the same time I understand that if the opposition uses force and shoots at police, any state would take some sort of defensive measures."

© 2011 AFP

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