Moscow Ready to Work With Mideast ‘Democracies’

MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is ready to develop relations with all democratically elected governments in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“Russia respects the political preferences expressed by the people in Middle East states and is ready to develop cooperation with democratically elected governments,” Lavrov said in a statement at the opening session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Morocco.

“That much is evident from our relationships with the new leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries,” he added.

Russia will continue to support the efforts of Arab states to facilitate their democratic development and to work toward “political settlement of the ongoing conflicts in the region based on international law,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said on May 7 after negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry that the two countries would try to set up an international conference at the end of May, aimed at facilitating a solution to the Syrian crisis through political dialogue.

However, Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said on Monday Damascus will not be a party to any act that would harm national sovereignty. In an interview with Lebanese al-Manar TV, al-Zoubi said his country was not willing to discuss the fate of the president, the country’s form of government and the constitution, all of which are “the essence of sovereignty.”

About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.

Moscow has condemned other nations for unilaterally supporting the rebel forces and failing to condemn what it describes as terrorist attacks on the Syrian regime.

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