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Syrian people made homeless by the bombing of Azaz

Russia sticks to soft regime change in Syria

RobK(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/VOA)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that his country will continue to plead for a gradual reform of Syria's government. Speaking after a meeting with US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton in Vladivostok he said that Russia will ask the UN Security Council to implement the so-called Geneva accord, which was adopted by the United Nations' Action Group for Syria on 30 June. The Geneva accord does not contain any suggestion that President Bashir al-Assad should step down.

Instead, the proposal recommends a gradual transition towards a new government in Syria, which could include members of the current regime. Russia and the Assad government have been close allies for a long time.

European Foreign Ministers meeting in Cyprus accused the Security Council of failing to act on Syria. three consecutive attempts to slam UN sanctions on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad were blocked by China and Russia. Clearly referring to these two powers, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders of Belgium said, "Can we let a civil war take hold because some countries are exercising their veto right in the Security Council?" The violent Syrian conflict began 18 months ago. So far 20,000 people are said to have been killed, most of them civilians.

The EU imposed an arms embargo on Syria, which effectively bars European member states from helping the Syrian rebels by supplying arms. British Foreign Minister William Hague said in Cyprus that the Syrian opposition had been given communications equipment and water purification kits, for instance. The European Union is also providing humanitarian aid to the estimated 1.2 million refugees inside Syria and its neighbouring countries, where about a quarter of a million has sought refuge.

Russia harmed
At the summit in Vladiwostok Minister Lavrov also said that US sanctions against Syria and Iran are harming Russia's economic interests. Russian banks in particular are feeling the effects, he told Foreign Secretary Clinton. "We have been listened to, but we don't know what the outcome will be," Lavrov said afterwards.

The Syrian crisis will be discussed at the next UN General Assembly in New York which starts on 13 September. - (IEDE)

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