Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the “tragic events” in Libya must not be repeated in Syria and called for “forcing” the Syrian government and opposition groups to start a dialogue.

“The Libyan tragic events are still fresh in our mind. Such scenarios categorically cannot be allowed to repeat in other countries, such as Syria,” Mr Putin said, accusing the West of resorting to “rocket-bomb democracy” and interfering in internal conflicts.

“I am convinced that we must do everything possible to force the conflicting sides [in Syria] to find a peaceful political solution to all the disputed issues,” Mr Putin told an annual meeting of the Russian Ambassadors to foreign countries, on Monday.

“This is of course more difficult and sophisticated work than the crude use of outside force. But it alone can ensure long-term settlement and future stable development in the region,” he said.

The Russian leader spoke hours after Syrian opposition leader and intellectual Michel Kilo held talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Kilo described the talks as “very successful.”

“The Russian Foreign Minister said several times that Russia did not support the Syrian regime,” he claimed.

“Both we as democratic forces and Russia are interested in stabilizing the situation in Syria,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Mr Kilo as saying.

Mr Kilo said he supported dialogue with Mr Assad but the latter was not responding to the opposition demands, saying they did not represent the Syrian people.

Next week Moscow will host members of another opposition group, the Syrian National Council.

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