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13/03/2012 Share/Save/Bookmark
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Clinton, Ban Ki-moon & Lavrov (AFP)
Clinton, Ban Ki-moon & Lavrov (AFP)

The West, Russia & Syria

(DP-News - agencies)

The West has been clashed with Russia at the United Nations Security Council over Syria, as activists and Damascus government traded blame for a massacre of civilians in the city of Homs.

Both West and Moscow have called for an end to Syria's conflict, which the U.N. has said has left more than 7,500 people dead. But open divisions over how to do so has left the international community deadlocked.

At the U.N. Security Council meeting on the "Arab Spring" uprisings, the U.S. and Russia sparred Monday over who is to blame for a year of deepening violence in Syria and how to respond, facing off one day after the latest failed diplomatic attempt to end the violence.

The clash came during an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday organized by the U.K., which is overseeing this month's council proceedings. Billing the session as a discussion of the Arab Spring, foreign ministers of countries that have ousted their leaders—Egypt, Tunisia and Libya—were invited to speak. But these ministers didn't attend, and the focus of the meeting rested almost entirely on Syria.

While Mr. Lavrov said Syrian authorities "bear a huge share of responsibility for the current situation," he also said that "for a long time now they have not been fighting unarmed men but combat units," which he said included al Qaeda.

While the U.S. has said it wouldn't arm the opposition, it hasn't condemned other countries that may already be doing so. Western diplomats acknowledge that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who have both called for arming the rebels, have already begun to do so, a charge both countries reject.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned what he called support for terrorists by foreign governments, which he didn't name, in an attempt to overthrow the legal authorities in Damascus. He also railed against the arming of the Syrian population.

"Interference from outside, using raw military force, increases the illicit spread of arms," Lavrov said, "thus jeopardizing stability in the region."

Lavrov added NATO had "grossly violated" its UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya last year after rebels rose up to overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.
"There is no doubt whatsoever that the Syrian authorities bear a huge responsibility for the current situation," he said.
But, Lavrov added, there was no point in talking about that started the violence. He said the Security Council should press for an "immediate end of violence" by all sides.

Lavrov arrived in New York from Cairo, where he agreed on a five-point plan with the Arab League, minus the league's demand that President al-Assad step aside.

"Making hasty demands for regime change, imposing unilateral sanctions designed to trigger economic difficulties and social tensions, inducing the opposition to continue its confrontation with the authorities instead of promoting dialogue, making calls in support of armed confrontation and even for foreign military intervention—all of the above are risky recipes of geopolitical engineering that clearly result in the spread of conflict," he said.

Russia is a major arms supplier to Syria and one of Damascus's last remaining allies, though Lavrov joked with reporters that he wished Russia had as much influence in Syria to resolve the crisis as some people believe.

For her part, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Russia was guilty of standing silent while al-Assad`s regime killed its own people. She portrayed Syria's crisis as a legitimate revolt of the Syrian people against a dictatorial regime. "We reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government's military machine, and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense," she said.

Clinton blamed Russia for vetoing two Security Council resolutions that would have condemned the violence of Damascus against the opposition. Support for Syria's sovereignty doesn't mean "this council should stand silent when governments massacre their own people," she said.

Clinton also called Damascus's Saturday assault on Idlib "cynical" as it occurred as President Bashar al-Assad was meeting with Kofi Annan, who was representing the U.N. and Arab League."We discussed his meetings this past weekend with the Arab League in Cairo, where he agreed on the necessity of an end to violence; full, unimpeded humanitarian access; and a political process led by" Mr. Annan, she said.

Clinton added Monday that she had a "constructive conversation" privately with Russian FM Lavrov.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters after meeting privately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov it was time for Moscow and Beijing to join calls for an end to the Syrian government's repression of unrest.
Clinton said it was up to President al-Assad, whose army has led a year-long crackdown which the United Nations says, has killed well over 7,500 civilians, to take the initial step. "First and foremost the Assad government has to end the violence," she said.

The U.S. and Russian envoys also sparred over the conduct of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's monthslong air campaign that contributed to the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

The U.S. and Arab nations have called for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

Separately on Monday too, a meeting of the Middle East Quartet on the sidelines of the council meeting yielded no progress on the Palestinian-Israeli question, though calm was urged in response to the upsurge of violence in and around Gaza.

The U.S., Russia, U.N. and European Union welcomed a initiative by Jordan in seeking to being the Israelis and Palestinians together and said that the Quartet would again meet in Washington next month.

There were no signs after Monday's special Security Council meeting on the "Arab Spring" uprisings that the five permanent members were any closer to breaking an impasse that has twice led Russia and China to veto draft resolutions on Syria.

Earlier on Sunday, the Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, representing sputtering international hopes for ending Syria's violence, left Damascus without an agreement from President Bashar al-Assad's regime or its opponents to stop the violence, or from the government to let humanitarian aid in.

Citing "grave and appalling reports of atrocities and abuses," Mr. Annan called for an end of violence. But he conceded it won't be easy, even though his mission has had the general backing of both the U.S. and Russia.

"We are going to press ahead for humanitarian access, for the killings of civilians to stop, and get everybody to the table to work out a political solution," he told reporters in Ankara on Monday. "We can't afford to let this thing drag on for too long."

Visitors Comments          Number of Comments (3)
Once more, the world has to do what simply needs to be done.
Kafantaris            3/16/2012 4:57:48 AM
Sarkozy is right. As a world community governed by universal principals of fairness and empathy for our fellow men we cannot avert our eyes from the crimes against humanity these monsters are committing. It is time, therefore, that we deal with him as the criminal he has become. We had acted with resolve against a criminal in Libya and we should act with resolve against this one in Syria now. Russia and China would be prudent to again stay out of the way. Enough is enough. Once more, the world has to do what simply needs to be done.
Syrian Solution
John J Kiernan            3/15/2012 8:31:59 AM
The Bible tells us; "Two people cannot walk as one unless they are agreed. since there is no agreement between the parties involvedthen just as in marriage, divorce is the answer. Let them go their seperate ways. Move them to another Arab country. All the Sunni Muslims should gather in Saudi Arabis. Then Iraan, Syria and Iraq would be Shiite.
Mabeco            3/14/2012 12:29:24 PM
I understand and support Russia and China.
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