Russia pushes for political solution in Syria

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The Independent Online

Moscow believes Syria's President Bashar al-Assad could cling to power despite a popular revolt and hopes to build bridges between the government and opposition, the Kremlin's envoy to the region said yesterday.

Mikhail Margelov also said Moscow was resisting a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on protesters in the hope of winning support for its own draft, described by some diplomats as toothless.

Mr Margelov meets Syrian opposition figures in Moscow today and has talks with Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr 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 said yesterday.