Russia says Annan offers last chance for Syria

Sunday 25 Mar 2012

Russian president voiced his concern over the situation in Syria saying that Kofi Anan may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Sunday that Kofi Annan represented the last chance for avoiding a civil war in Syria and offered the UN-Arab League envoy Moscow's full support.

"This may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war," Russian agencies quoted Medvedev as telling Annan at a meeting held in Moscow's Vnukovo 2 airport before his departure for a summit in Seoul.

"We will be offering you our full support at any level in which we have a say," said Mededev.

"We very much hope that your efforts have a positive outcome."

Annan said he needed Russia's strong backing to succeed in ending a year of bloodshed that the opposition says has claimed more than 9,100 lives.

Russian news agencies quoted Annan as saying he expected Russia to play an "active" role in making sure that both sides follow the points of the UN Security Council-backed Syria peace plan.

Neither Annan nor Medvedev made any specific reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or the opposition's demands on his immediate ouster.

Annan preceded his talks with Medvedev with a private meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russian officials said agreed on the need for "further efforts" by world and regional powers to resolve the crisis.

"Both sides underscored the importance of working with both the government and the opposition," Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.

Russia had said in advance of Annan's visit that it wanted the West to apply stronger pressure on the opposition forces to lay down their arms.

Moscow has also been playing down the influence it has over its Arab world ally and this month accused Assad of refusing to listen to Russia's suggestions on resolving the crisis.

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