Moscow Takes Issue with US Stance on Syria

MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow criticized on Tuesday what it described as the United States’ biased interpretation of the Geneva Communiqué as supporting the Syrian opposition.

“Public statements by representatives of the US administration in support of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in fact point to a one-sided interpretation of the Geneva Communique,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

“This naturally complicates the search for ways to put an end to the armed confrontation in Syria and put the conflict on course for an all-Syria dialog.”

Lukashevich reiterated that the document, agreed on in Geneva last summer by all the key parties with an interest in the Syria issue, including the United States, unequivocally calls for a transitional administrative body to be formed through negotiations between the authorities and the opposition, which will control the country until nationwide elections.

“The Geneva consensus leaves no room for any ‘interpretation,’” Lukashevich said.

The US State Department said on Monday that Washington will keep supporting the Syrian opposition because that is the only possible way to resolve the conflict in the country.

“We remain committed to trying to support both the Syrian Opposition Coalition and others inside Syria who believe in using [the agreement reached last summer in] Geneva and trying to implement it now,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a daily press briefing.

“We think that’s the best way to end the violence,” Nuland said.

At a meeting on Syria in Geneva on June 30, 2012, foreign ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and from countries neighboring Syria proposed to establish a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces.

The US state secretary also said Monday her country and Russia have different visions of how the situation in Syria could be resolved.

“From our perspective, there’s no way that mutual consent would ever be given to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad or regime members with blood on their hands,” Nuland said.

“The Russians continue to have their own interpretation. In our conversations with them, we have encouraged them to use their influence with the Assad regime to get it to embrace Geneva and begin working on how it could be implemented,” she said. “From our perspective, that obviously has to be done without Assad.”

About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against President 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 repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.


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