Russia lauds Syria decision to admit Arab monitors

Syrian FM says his country signed agreement on counseling of Moscow; Iran: Arab League agreement "acceptable."

By REUTERS
December 19, 2011 19:48
2 minute read.
Russian presidident Medvedev with Syria's Assad

Russian presidident Medvedev with Syria's Assad 311 (R). (photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)

 
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Russia on Monday praised Syria's decision to let in Arab monitors, saying this could help stabilize the violence-stricken country, after Damascus made clear it agreed to the deal on the advice of its big power ally. Earlier Monday Iran also gave its support for the measure.

"We believe that the document signed in Cairo gives an opportunity to ... provide safety for the Syrian people and stabilize the situation," the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Interfax news agency.

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Syria agreed on Monday to let Arab League observers into the country to monitor implementation of a deal it agreed last month to pull troops from protest-hit towns, free political prisoners and start talking to dissidents.

Damascus signed the deal on the counseling of Moscow, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said.

An armed insurgency has emerged in the last two months in Syria, alongside a peaceful protest movement that began in March inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.

Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, including a pro-Assad militia, have reportedly suffered scores of casualties in the last few weeks, especially in the northwestern province of Idlib near Turkey and in the central region of Homs.

Russia has had strong ties with Damascus since the Soviet era. Syria has been a major client for Russian arms sales and hosts a Russian naval maintenance installation on its Mediterranean coast, a rare outpost abroad for Moscow's military.

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Iran welcomed as "acceptable" the Arab peace deal signed by Syria Monday, a senior official in Tehran told Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam news channel.

"Whatever is accepted by President Assad is an acceptable act in Iran's view," Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahi told Al Alam television.

The deputy Iranian foreign minister said his county believes "some modifications could be considered in the plan ... However, many of Iran's standpoints have been considered in the deal," he told the station.

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