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Qatar FM pushes Putin over Syria fighting

AFP , Saturday 7 May 2016
Qatar
Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attend a meeting with Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, second from right, in Sochi, Russia, Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo)
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Qatar's Foreign Minister on Friday met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to pressure Moscow after fighting in Syria's Aleppo threatened to sink peace efforts.

"We came here today to discuss possible ways to save the political process, to save the civilian population," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told journalists after the meeting, adding that he had brought a message from the Emirate's leader "on the escalation in Aleppo".

"We all need to unite efforts to bring an end to the crisis and punish the guilty," he said in comments translated into Russian.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria to back up the forces of its ally Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and is seen as one of the key power brokers that can pressure Damascus to accept a negotiated settlement.

Qatar supports Syrian rebels fighting Al-Assad's regime in a conflict which has killed more than 270,000 people since it began in March 2011.

Fighting over the past two weeks in the Syrian city of Aleppo has killed more than 280 civilians after a truce deal between regime and moderate rebel forces unravelled.

A fresh 48-hour ceasefire in the battleground city entered its second day on Friday, allowing residents some respite.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that despite the differences between Russia and Qatar over the conflict they both wanted to find a peaceful solution.

"Despite all the nuances in our approaches the main thing that unites us is striving to political resolution, a resolution that will preserve Syria's territorial unity and sovereignty," Lavrov told journalists.

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