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    Peace Envoy Annan Presses Russia on Syria

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) talks with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan during their meeting in Moscow, March 25, 2012.
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) talks with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan during their meeting in Moscow, March 25, 2012.

    International peace envoy Kofi Annan is trying to garner support from Russia to help stop bloodshed in Syria during the crackdown on an anti-government uprising.

    It’s top news across Russia.

    Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy, met in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as parts of efforts to end Syria's year-long violence that has killed at least 8,000 people.

    Medvedev said this could be Syria’s last chance to avoid a long-lasting and bloody civil war.

    Therefore, he said, Russia will offer its full support on any level to the extent that Russia is capable.

    Annan praised Russia's assistance.

    As we move forward, I will continue to rely on your support and advice, and I think you are right to say that Syria has an opportunity today to work with me and this mediation process to put an end to the conflict, to the fighting, and really to allow access to humanitarian, those in need of humanitarian assistance, as well as to embark on the political process that will lead to a peaceful settlement.

    Medvedev endorsed that goal.

    The Russian president said he very much hopes Annan's efforts will have a positive outcome.

    The Kremlin has said it would be hard to stop the bloodshed in Syria until external support for the opposition is terminated. And it maintains that dialogue with both sides is necessary for peace.

    Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Syrian conflict, viewing them as one-sided against Assad. But last week, Moscow did support a Security Council statement endorsing Annan’s mission.

    The special envoy has drawn up a six-point plan for peace, including a cease-fire, the immediate withdrawal of heavy armor from residential areas and humanitarian assistance.

    Russia’s foreign ministry recently endorsed a call from the International Committee of the Red Cross for the Syrian government and rebels to stop fighting for a block of time each day to give the agency access to the wounded. Russia also agreed that jailed protesters should have visitors.

    Damascus has not agreed to daily cease-fires and has not granted the ICRC permission to enter every part of the country affected by the fighting.

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