Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia has warned the West against using a search for chemical weapons in Syria as an attempt to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“There are governments and outside players that believe that all means are appropriate [to be used] to overthrow the Syrian regime,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
Referring to the use of chemical weapons by foreign-backed militants on March 19 near the city of Aleppo, where 25 people were killed and 86 injured, Lavrov criticized UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his call on a UN fact-finding mission to investigate unproven claims about the use of chemical weapons in Syria in December 2012.
“This demand by the [UN] secretary-general with reference to a forgotten
episode reminds us a great deal of attempts in Syria to introduce a
practice analogous to that which existed in Iraq, when they were looking
for weapons of mass destruction there,” Lavrov added.
The Syrian government requested top UN officials to open an investigation into the March 19 incident. However some Western nations are blocking the investigation, demanding that the commission should investigate a different case of supposed chemical attack near the city of Homs in December for which the militants blame government forces.
Newscast Media DUBLIN, Ireland—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi Thursday as world leaders desperately seek an end to the conflict in Syria.
Amid fears the 21-month conflict which has already claimed some 40,000 lives may take a gruesome new turn, the three diplomats were to hold crisis talks on the sidelines of an international meeting in Dublin.
“Secretary Clinton has accepted an invitation by UN special envoy Brahimi for a trilateral meeting on Syria this afternoon with Mr Brahimi and Russian FM Lavrov,” a senior State Department official said.
US officials hope there may be a new willingness by Moscow, a staunch ally in Damascus, to probe ways to bring more pressure to bear on Assad to step down. The United States has been calling for some time for Russia to use its leverage with Assad to try to open the way towards a political transition. Moscow has been a staunch ally of Assad and has vetoed UN Security Council resolutions aiming to sanction the regime.
But it did initially sign onto a peace plan crafted by Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, until it wavered in the face of imposing punitive UN action if Syria refused to implement the accord.
Clinton and Lavrov met first on Thursday morning for bilateral talks in which a US senior official said they both agreed to “listen to what the special envoy has to say.”
“They both have a lot of respect of his mission and want to be supportive of it,” the State Department official said.
Washington has so far provided humanitarian, non-lethal aid to the rebels, but refused to arm the opposition amid fears of pouring weapons into an already volatile region, where anti-US militant groups are springing up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday on a trip focused on resolving sharp differences over the conflict. Last month, Erdogan said Russia held the key to the Syrian conflict, and that if Moscow took a “positive” stance in the Security Council it could push another key Damascus ally Iran to review its policies.
Source: Radio Netherlands