Putin reiterates Moscow’s support for ‘peaceful political solution’ in Syria
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Syria needed dialogue between the regime and opposition rather than foreign intervention to ensure a lasting peace.
"I am convinced that we must do everything possible to force the conflicting sides to find a peaceful political solution to all the disputed issues," Putin told foreign dignitaries in a televised address.
"Of course, this is more difficult and delicate work than the crude use of outside force. But only this can ensure a long-term settlement and the future stable development of the situation in the region," he said.
Putin also repeated his earlier warnings against powers ordering armed intervention against Moscow's Soviet-era ally without prior approval from the UN Security Council on which Russia wields veto power.
"We will continue to firmly defend the principles of the UN Security Council charter. We will make sure that in cases when forced intervention is needed, the decision can only be taken by the UN Security Council," said Putin.
"Supplanting such decisions with unilateral sanctions can only be counterproductive."
Putin spoke only hours after prominent Syrian opposition leader and intellectual Michel Kilo held talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The meeting came amid efforts by Russia to show its ability to speak not only to President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle but also members of the opposition who have been scathing of Moscow's stance in the near 17-month conflict.
Kilo told reporters after the meeting that he had initially supported dialogue with Assad but now felt that the situation had degenerated too far for meaningful talks.
"The regime -- alas -- is not replying to our demands and is saying that we are not representatives of the Syrian people," news agencies quoted Kilo as saying.