Russia defends Syria arms flow, sees no talks soon

May 14, 2012 17:51

MOSCOW - Russia defended its weapons deliveries to Syria in the face of Western criticism on Monday, saying government forces need to defend themselves against rebels receiving arms from abroad.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Moscow sees little chance of dialogue between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and its adversaries any time soon, and urged the West to do more to coax the opposition into talks.

He made clear Moscow is in no rush to write off a ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan despite persistent bloodshed, much of which he blamed on "terrorist groups" including al-Qaida.

Russia has shielded Assad by blocking two UN Security Council resolutions condemning his government for 14 months of violence but has firmly backed Annan's peace plan, which calls for a political dialogue to follow a full ceasefire.

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