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White House rejects Russia's call for dialogue in Syria

(Xinhua)

09:07, February 09, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- White House on Wednesday rejected Russia's recent call for negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition, saying the opportunity was not available anymore.

"From the earlier days of this situation in Syria, there was an opportunity for the Assad regime to engage in dialogue with the opposition, with the Syrian people who were demanding peaceful transition," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"Rather than take that opportunity, Assad brutally cracked down on his own people, and that crackdown continues to this day," he told reporters at a briefing.

"We don't think that opportunity is available anymore," said Carney, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had chosen a path which resulted in "deaths of many, many Syrians."

In his Tuesday's visit to Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that it was necessary to call on the country's government and opposition to start a national dialogue.

Russia, together with China which is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council, vetoed on Saturday a draft resolution jointly drawn up by Arab states and Western powers, which was meant to fully support an Arab League plan to demand the Syrian president step down.

Russia argued that the draft would have put too little pressure on the armed opposition of Syria, thus sending "an unbalanced signal" to all the Syrian parties.

"What is clear is that siding with the Assad regime at this stage will not get Russia anything, except for the alienation of the Syrian people," Carney warned.

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