Russia says don't bank on Syrian leader being ousted

September 8, 2011 18:52

YAROSLAVL, Russia - Russia believes Syrian President Bashar Assad could hold on to power despite a popular revolt and Moscow hopes to build bridges between the government and opposition, the Kremlin's envoy to the region said on Thursday.

Mikhail Margelov also said Moscow was holding out against a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria over its crackdown on protesters in the hope that it would win support for its own draft, described by some diplomats as toothless.Margelov meets Syrian opposition figures in Moscow on Friday and has talks with Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Assad, on Monday before starting a tour of the Middle East and North Africa next week that will include discussions on Syria.

"The chances for a political settlement are still open," he told reporters at a conference in the Russian city of Yaroslavl.

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