Putin: Syrians should be 'forced' to start talks

July 9, 2012 - 7:38 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the Syrian government and opposition groups should be "forced" to start a dialogue.

He spoke Monday, the same day a Syrian opposition leader, Michel Kilo, met with Russia's foreign minister.

Putin said that the dialogue Russia is helping facilitate is "more complicated and fine" that an armed solution to the conflict.

Kilo, who heads the Democratic Forum opposition group, said that he hopes Russia will play a positive role in "finding a peaceful solution to our crisis."

Members of another opposition group, the Syrian National Council, are expected in Moscow for talks Wednesday.

Russia is Syria's most important ally and protector and its main supplier of arms. The Russians have blocked the U.N.'s Security Council from taking strong, punitive action against the Assad regime.