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Putin insists peace talks the only way to end Syria's 'massacre'

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    April 2, 2013: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with the German ARD television in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia.AP/RIA Novosti Kremlin

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    In this photo taken Tuesday, April 2, 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to during an interview with the German ARD television in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia. Putin has dismissed Western criticism of his government's raids of non-government organizations, saying they must account for their foreign funds. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin says the civil war in Syria has become "a massacre" and that it must be stopped through peace talks between the government and the opposition.

Speaking to the German ARD television in remarks released by the Kremlin on Friday, he rejected the Western criticism of Russia for its continuing supply of weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Putin said that such shipments don't violate international law, and he criticized those who send weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Putin said that peace talks should spell out the future of Syria and provide guarantees to all parties.

Russia has been Assad's main ally, shielding him from the U.N. sanctions over his crackdown on an uprising that turned into a civil war that has killed some 70,000 people.