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Putin: Russia doesn't supply arms to Syria that can be used in civil war

Published time: June 01, 2012 13:03
Edited time: June 01, 2012 18:56

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference on June 1, 2012 at the Chancellery in Berlin (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

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Russia is not shipping weapons that can be used in the Syrian civil conflict, President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Berlin, stressing that Russia is committed to helping UN envoy Kofi Annan achieve "positive results" in the turmoil.

President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that the best way of resolving the Syrian crisis is through political means, not unilateral action.

"We are not going to apply any instruments unilaterally," Putin said at a joint press conference alongside Merkel following talks with her in Berlin on Friday. “We will maintain dialogue with our partners who are interested in resolving this conflict.”

Putin added that resolving the standoff, which has entered its second year, will require a “degree of patience and professionalism.”

Meanwhile, the Russian leader emphasized that “Russia is not exporting weapons that could be used in civil conflicts to Syria.”

Putin’s visits to Germany and France, on the heels of a stop in Belarus on Thursday, reflect a growing concern over global security, especially in Syria where President Bashar al-Assad is coming under tremendous domestic and international pressure following the massacre of over 100 civilians in the town of Houla last week.

Although the Syrian government blames “terrorist elements” for the outrage, analysts fear the country will be torn apart by civil war.

"Nobody is interested in seeing a civil war there. We should do all we can so that such a war is prevented," Angela Merkel said. "We prioritize a political solution."

Putin agreed with his German counterpart that signs of a civil war are visible, and this is “extremely dangerous.” However, the Russian leader stressed that Russia does not unilaterally support the Assad regime.

"Those who say that Russia unilaterally supports the Assad regime are mistaken,” he said. “We and Syria have maintained good relations for years, but we do not support either party from which a civil war threat emanates."

Merkel, reiterating that Moscow and Berlin favor a political settlement of the crisis in Syria, noted that the “Annan plan could be a starting point.”

The Annan Plan – named after former UN Security General Kofi Anna, who was appointed as the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria in an attempt to end the uprising that began in March 2011 – calls for an immediate cease-fire to take place across Syria.

Meanwhile, Putin assured reporters that Russia would maintain regular contact with the Syrian government to "ensure a political solution and prevent civil war.”

The escalation of violence in Syria was one of the topics discussed during Russian president’s meeting with Angela Merkel on his first trip abroad since returning to the presidency. Discussing the interaction in the international arena, they also talked about the Iranian nuclear program and the upcoming P5+1 round of talks in Moscow.

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