Russia backs Syria as Paris warns Moscow of isolation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says ‘Instead of a dialogue there is an attempt to isolate the Syrian government.’ REUTERS photoShutting Damascus out of talks to end the brutal crackdown in Syria would be a mistake, the Russian foreign minister said as France warned Russia was isolating itself on its stance over Syria.
Speaking at a press conference in The Hague after meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, Sergei Lavrov took a swipe at countries wanting to isolate President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“Unfortunately some of our partners long ago wrote off the government of Syria,” said Lavrov. “Instead of a dialogue there is an attempt to isolate the Syrian government.”
Juppe to warn Lavrov
Rosenthal sharply disagreed Feb. 15, saying “Let me be very frank. From the Dutch end we think the president of Syria should step down.” In Strasbourg, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned Russia of isolation over its refusal to condemn Damascus and said he would try to convince Lavrov to change tack during their meeting late yesterday.
“I will tell him that Russia is isolating itself within the international community [...] and it is not a good thing for her to isolate herself to this extent,” Juppe said. Juppe and Lavrov were due to meet in Vienna yesterday. Meanwhile, China said yesterday it was sending an envoy to Syria to push for a “peaceful” end to the conflict there. Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will visit Syria from Feb. 17 to 18, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular briefing. “He will exchange views with the Syrian government and parties concerned in Syria,” Liu said. Furthermore, Switzerland on Feb. 15 said it was closing its embassy in Damascus and urged its nationals to leave Syria “as quickly as possible.”
Turkish FM talks with diplomats on Syria issue
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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met his Kenyan counterpart Moses Wetangula over lunch in Ankara yesterday, following his recent visit to the United States. He also met the secretary-general of Afghanistan’s peace council, Masum Stanekzai, and the leader of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Walid Jumblatt. In addition, he held a series of telephone conversations with Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby and the German, Brazilian and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers to talk the developments in Syria.