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Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks at the annual 'Herzliya Conference' in the central Israeli city of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv January 30, 2012. (NIR ELIAS/REUTERS/NIR ELIAS/REUTERS)
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks at the annual 'Herzliya Conference' in the central Israeli city of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv January 30, 2012. (NIR ELIAS/REUTERS/NIR ELIAS/REUTERS)

Baird signals qualified support for Russia's initiative on Syria Add to ...

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has signaled Canada’s qualified support for a Russian initiative to resolve the current civil conflict in Syria through negotiations, provided it takes place along with a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence.

“A strong UN resolution would not preclude a Russian initiative,” Mr. Baird told reporters at the Herzliya Conference on Israel and the Middle East, taking place in this Israeli city north of Tel Aviv.

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“I’ve had long discussions with my Russian counterpart” about this, he said. “And a strong UN resolution doesn’t preclude” what they’re trying to achieve.

The Security Council is debating this week a new resolution on the Syrian conflict that would largely adopt a proposal by the Arab League. That proposal calls for an end to the violence in Syria and for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to hand over powers to his vice president to negotiate a transition to democracy with a national unity government.

Russia, which has been trying to start negotiations between the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, has said it opposes any resolution that would have the Syrian President surrender all power immediately. Such a development, Russia says, would lead to chaos and civil war.

Yet most other members of the Security Council have called for the end of the Assad regime, including Canada.

“We continue to call on Assad to step down immediately and end the campaign of terror and violence,” said Mr. Baird’s spokesman, Joseph Lavoie.

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