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Germany urges Russia to curb support for Syria

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. (AP Photo/str)

BERLIN: Germany on Friday urged Russia to curb its support for Damascus, ahead of President Vladimir Putin's visit to Berlin and Paris that is set to be dominated by the escalating Syria crisis.

"In our view Russia should recognize that we are not working against Russian strategic interests when we want to stop the violence in Syria," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Die Welt ahead of Putin's arrival.

Russia is coming under increasing pressure over its resistance to U.N. action on Syria, particularly since the massacre in the town of Houla last week that left 108 people dead, including women and children, and caused global outrage.

"Russia and its stance towards the Assad regime plays a key role in the Syrian crisis," Westerwelle added.

But he warned against military intervention in Syria, where activists estimate more than 13,000 people have been killed since President Bashar Assad's forces launched a brutal crackdown on opponents in March last year.

"We must not give the impression in this difficult situation that military intervention is the road to a quick fix," Westerwelle said. "The political and diplomatic paths are extremely difficult but we must pursue them."

Putin, who was sworn in for a third term as president last month, holds talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday before heading to Paris where he will meet French President Francois Hollande.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Thursday that Russia's stance could tip Syria into civil war.

 

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