MOSCOW - Russia expressed opposition on Friday to sanctions against Syria's government and said it needs more information about a French proposal for "humanitarian corridors" in the violence-torn country before taking a position. "At the current stage, what is needed is not resolutions, not sanctions, not pressure, but internal Syrian dialogue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a weekly news conference. Lukashevich spoke as Syria faced a Friday deadline to sign an Arab deal allowing monitors into the country or incur sanctions over its crackdown on protests including halting flights, curbing trade and stopping deals with the central bank.
Europe and the United States have already imposed several rounds of sanctions against Syria.
Russia teamed up with China last month to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's government for violence the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people. Moscow has urged the government to implement reforms, but has rejected pressure from opposition groups to join international calls for Assad's resignation and accused Western nations of trying to set the stage for armed intervention.
Lukashevich repeated those positions, saying Russia supported the Arab League's call for a halt to the violence but that "radical opposition" groups with foreign support shared the blame.
"We believe that the most important tasks now are the unconditional halt to violence, whatever its source, and the intensification of the internal Syrian dialogue on the issues of democratic reforms in the country," the spokesman said.
He said outside military intervention was "absolutely unacceptable" and that "human rights issues should under no conditions should be used as a pretext for interference in the internal affairs of states, in this case Syria."
But he did not shut the door on a French call for "humanitarian corridors" to alleviate suffering, saying Moscow needs more information about the proposal. "I think we will return to this question when more clarity emerges about what specifically is being discussed," Lukashevich said. After a meeting in Moscow on Thursday, diplomats from Russia, China and the other three emerging-market BRIC countries — Brazil, India and South Africa — warned against foreign intervention without U.N. backing. (Reuters)