Transition plan to be decided by all Syrian parties: Russia
GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference at the United Nations' offices in Geneva on June 30, 2012, after a ministerial-level meeting of world powers on Syria. AFP photo
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday said any power transition in Syria would be decided by Syrians and that no party should be excluded from the process.
"How exactly the work on a transition to a new stage is conducted will be decided by the Syrians themselves," he said, adding that Russia had convinced other world powers that it would be "unacceptable" to exclude any party.
World powers agreed Saturday to a plan for a transition in Syria that could include current regime members, but Washington made it clear that it did not see any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the unity government.
Lavrov admitted that Assad had made mistakes in the conflict, but said the Syrian leader was open to advice.
"Of course, the Syrian authorities often react disproportionately and in an inadequate manner.
"Yes, he makes a tremendous amount of mistakes, but still -- President Assad accepts advice. I am not sure if that is the case with the opposition," he said.
A long-time Syria ally, Russia is loathe to cast Assad aside, even as relations between Moscow and Damascus have cooled.
The Russian minister warned against attempts by the West to put the Syria transition plan agreed in Geneva to the UN Security Council, thereby paving the way to possible sanctions or military action in case of non-compliance.
"Before applying Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, we must do everything to implement Annan's plan on the basis of existing resolutions," he said.
Any adoption of the plan under Chapter 7 is "is unacceptable to us if only for the reason that today's meeting does not have the authority to decide what happens on the UN Security Council," he warned.
In a separate briefing, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the deal should be endorsed by the Security Council.
"We should endorse this plan in the Security Council, we should endorse it with real consequences, including Chapter 7 sanctions if it is not implemented," she said.