Russia denounces Friends of Syria meetings
LAVROV (R) reads statement along with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani in this photo. AA photoAfter holding talks with Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on March 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “by putting the Syrian resolution to a vote on Feb. 4, some U.N. Security Council members were guided by motives unrelated to the search for consensus.”
The meeting between the Friends of Syria and an opposition group, in the absence of the Syrian government, was “unclear” said Sergei Lavrov yesterday, through the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account, referring to the meeting in Tunisia last month.
Speaking about the U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s current mission to Damascus, Lavrov said Annan was “genuinely interested in talks with all Syrian parties, and in finding common ground for a national dialogue.”
Arab and Russian foreign ministers meeting in Cairo called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria “whatever its source,” as they struggled to find common ground on ways to resolve the conflict.
Lavrov, who met Annan in Cairo on March 9, told the Arab League his country was “not protecting any regime,” but did not believe the Syrian crisis could be blamed on one side alone. Reading out a joint statement, Lavrov and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said they had agreed on setting up a mechanism for “objective monitoring” in Syria and had agreed on no foreign intervention.
Lavrov called for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid access, but Qatar and Saudi Arabia sharply criticized Moscow’s stance.
Sheikh Hamad said the killings of civilians in Syria amounted to “genocide” and that a ceasefire was “not enough.” Sheikh Hamad said “the time has come to apply the proposal to send Arab and international troops to Syria.”
Also, China’s envoy to Syria met with Gulf Cooperation Council head Abdullatif al-Zayani in the Saudi capital yesterday, the six-nation organization said.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers rejected all recourse to a military solution in Syria, while reiterating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must unilaterally call a halt to the killing, at a two-day informal meeting of the bloc’s foreign policy chiefs.
Syrian military offensives against opposition strongholds in the country’s northwest continued yesterday, as three soldiers and a civilian were killed in fighting in the village of Janoudiya in Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said 39 civilians, including 25 in Idlib province, were killed on March 10, along with 39 rebels and 20 government soldiers, giving an overall death toll of 98.
As Syrian troops stormed Idlib, near the border with Turkey, dozens of Syrian refugees have fled across the border into Turkey, a Turkish government official said yesterday. At least 189 Syrians have crossed into Turkey since March 10, the official said, adding that the figure was increasing steadily.
Meanwhile, 52 Syrians entered Turkey’s southeastern town of Reyhanlý in Hatay on the night of March 10, Doğan news agency reported. Also, four Syrian defectors, who had earlier entered Turkey, were sent to a refugee camp in Altınözü.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.