Russia says Brahimi departure must not bring pause in Syria talks

MOSCOW Wed May 14, 2014 6:56am EDT

UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks to the media after Security Council consultations at the United Nations headquarters in New York May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi speaks to the media after Security Council consultations at the United Nations headquarters in New York May 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The resignation of international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi must not disrupt diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict, Russia's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's most powerful diplomatic ally and main arms supplier.

Brahimi will step down at the end of this month after two rounds of negotiations between the Assad government and the opposition which failed to break a deadlock.

"Russia assumes that the future successor to Brahimi... will safeguard continuity after his departure," Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.

"We believe there should be no artificial pause in the political process, the positive dynamics accumulated during previous rounds (of talks) must be safeguarded."

Russia helped ensure the Syrian government's participation at the peace talks in Geneva but has also blocked Western efforts at the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on Assad to end violence, including with the threat of sanctions.

"The most important thing is that the Syrian government is ready to continue the dialogue. We encourage and support Damascus in that," Gatilov said.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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