MacKay calls on Russia to exert influence to end civil war in Syria

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HALIFAX - Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay called on Russia Sunday to exert influence to end the Syrian civil war, accusing it of standing on the slidelines as the country "falls apart at the seams."

MacKay told a press conference at the Halifax International Security Forum on Sunday that Russia — one of Syria's most important allies — should use its weight to end the conflict.

Russia has backed Syria at the United Nations Security Council by repeatedly vetoing resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to end the war.

MacKay says Prime Minister Stephen Harper has recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but did not go into the details of the discussion.

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. John McCain told the security conference that he was "ashamed" as an American over the U.S. non-action in Syria.

More than 36,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

(With files from The Associated Press)

Organizations: Halifax International Security Forum, United Nations Security Council, The Associated Press

Geographic location: Russia, Syria, Canada U.S.

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