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Thursday
Feb212013

Moscow Seeks Dialogue to End Syrian Conflict

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russia's top diplomat said on Wednesday that Syria's warring sides run the risk of "mutual destruction" if they don't soon reach a settlement to end their conflict that began in March 2011.

After talks with Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that neither President Bashar al-Assad nor opposition forces will win a military victory.

Over the past two years, more than 70,000 people have died in Syria as al-Assad refuses to cede power to factions he has labeled as "terrorists" influenced by outside agitators.

Moscow remains Damascus' steadfast ally but Russia's patience with al-Assad has run thin.

Lavrov says he and the Arab League will try to broker talks between the two sides, suggesting, "There are signs of positive tendencies, signs of tendencies for dialogue both from the side of the government and the opposition."

One indication that Lavrov might be on to something is the planned visit in March by opposition Syrian National Coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib.  Until recently, al-Khatib has refused to talk with Moscow because of its ties to al-Assad.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio