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Russia asks West to give Damascus more time to settle situation

(Xinhua)

10:32, August 20, 2011

MOSCOW, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Russia did not support the U.S. and EU's latest call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

U.S. President Barack Obama and EU leaders on Thursday urged Assad to step down and imposed harsher sanctions on Damascus.

"We do not support these calls and believe Assad's regime ought to be given some time to complete all the reforms he announced," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Moscow believed Assad had done enough to settle the situation by announcing an amnesty and general elections by the end of the year, he said.

The ministry also stressed the importance of Assad's latest promise to stop all military operations and Damascus's decision to accept a U.N. mission on Aug. 20.

"This is a very important move, which is evidence of Assad's intention to go along the path of reforms. We support this and encourage the Syrians to go in this direction," Lukashevich said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Assad agreed this week that Damascus would accept the international mission.

Meanwhile, Aslambek Aslahanov, a member of Russian Parliament's Federation Council, told Interfax news agency Friday a delegation of Russian politicians would head to Syria in the next few days.

The latest U.S. sanctions will freeze Syrian government assets under U.S. jurisdiction, bar U.S. individuals or companies from transactions with Assad's government and ban U.S. imports of Syrian petroleum. The EU is expected to impose similar sanctions.


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