Russia Says Syrian Opposition Obstructing Peace Process

MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Syrian National Coalition is attempting to disrupt resolution of the Syrian crisis and is pushing for foreign military intervention in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

“It looks like the National Coalition and especially its regional sponsors are doing their best to disrupt the start of the political process and are trying to induce foreign intervention in Syria by all means, including the unscrupulous manipulation of public opinion,” Lavrov said after talks with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez.

After days of fierce debate about its participation in a peace conference proposed by Russia and the United States in early May, the coalition announced on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with all heads of his regime’s special services and high-ranking military officers, must resign before the opposition joins any peace talks. It also demanded that Iran and Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah halt their “invasion of Syria.”

On Thursday the coalition said in a statement quoted by CNN-Turk that it “won’t take part in any peace talks as long as killings [in Syria] continue.”

Russia’s top diplomat expressed hope that “realistically minded forces” in the United States and Europe would “be able to rein in those who connive at such an absolutely inadmissible and aggressive approach by the National Coalition.”

Lavrov criticized the coalition as an organization with “no constructive [political] platform,” whose members are engaged in a bitter rivalry for leadership posts.

“The only thing that unites them is the demand for Bashar Assad’s immediate resignation. But it’s clear to everyone, including our Western partners, that an approach like that is unrealistic,” Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Thursday described the coalition’s statement as “disappointing” and criticized recent international initiatives, including the lifting of the EU embargo on arms supplies to Syria and resolutions, adopted by the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month.

“All those decisions, as well as statements similar to the one made yesterday by an official White House spokesman on the possibility of enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, make us doubt the sincerity of some of our international and regional partners as far as the success of international efforts to aid a political resolution in this country is concerned,” Lukashevich said.

“It creates an unfavorable atmosphere for implementing the Russian-US initiative for a peace conference, which had brought about hopes for the launch of a political process in Syria,” he went on.

The spokesman also confirmed that US, Russian and UN representatives would meet in Geneva on June 5 to discuss Syria.

Lavrov announced after a Moscow meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 7 that the two countries had decided to hold an international conference aimed at facilitating a resolution to the Syrian crisis through political dialogue. Moscow wants to involve all the nations that took part in the Geneva conference on Syria on June 30, 2012.

The Syrian government has already signaled its “principal consent” to take part in the conference.


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