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Russia Says Weapons Sales To Syria Will Continue

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov says Moscow will not stop selling weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, one of Russia's top arms customers.

Antonov's remarks come amid deadlocked United Nations Security Council talks on a Western- and Arab League-backed resolution aimed at halting Assad's deadly crackdown against antigovernment demonstrators.

Russia has said it opposes the text, which calls for Assad to step down.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will discuss the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference this weekend.

Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's UN representative, has criticized Moscow for blocking a binding UN resolution.

Noting massive Syrian weapons purchases from Moscow, Diaz said: "Russia bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked."

Russian state-run arms exporter Rosoboroneksport has reported an annual rise in sales of $2 billion, to $11 billion in 2011.

Compiled from agency reports