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    Syria Efforts Aimed at Political Dialog - UN Spokesman

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    The parties to the conflict in Syria should seek political dialog, a UN spokesman said Friday.

    UNITED NATIONS, May 4 (RIA Novosti) - The parties to the conflict in Syria should seek political dialog, a UN spokesman said Friday.

    “Clearly, the whole aim of international efforts is political dialogue as a way to move forward and to end the bloodshed,” Martin Nesirky told journalists when asked to comment on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement.

    Lavrov said in Ljubljana Friday that Moscow is ready to hold talks with all representatives of the Syrian opposition, including Salim Idriss, leader of the Free Syrian Army. Lavrov’s statement came after Idriss said he would be ready to meet the Russian authorities to discuss ways to resolve the Syrian crisis.

    US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Thursday the United States was reconsidering whether to arm Syrian rebel groups, which it has previously held back from doing.

    That follows reports last week, as yet unconfirmed, that the government forces in Syria had used chemical weapons including nerve agents against rebel forces in the conflict, which President Barack Obama had previously said would be a “red line” for the United States.

    About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.

    Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.


    Chuck Hagel, Martin Nesirky, Sergei Lavrov, Bashar al-Assad
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