(MOSCOW) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said its representatives would not attend an international Friends of Syria gathering in Turkey this weekend that will discuss how to end the violence in Syria, including possible aid to the opposition.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a Tuesday news conference that even if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leaves power, the underlying problems in that country will remain.
The announcement was a blow to the United States and its allies, which hoped Russia had begun to back away from its staunch support for Assad. Russia signed on to a United Nations Security Council statement last week condemning the violence and endorsing a peace plan by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had also offered his strongest criticism of Assad, saying the Syrian leader had made many mistakes in his response to the uprising.
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Holly Yan, David Williams and Steve Almasy, CNN
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN