Russia accuses West of 'provocation' over Syria

21st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Monday accused the West of provocative behaviour in the Syrian crisis, saying Western countries were telling the opposition to forget dialogue with President Bashar al-Assad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the West's behaviour in this respect was "similar to a political provocation at an international level", news agencies reported.

He complained that while the Arab League had called for a halt to violence in Syria, Western capitals had been telling the opposition to refrain from dialogue with Assad.

Russia, one of few powers still offering support to Assad, has repeatedly called on the West for a more balanced approach in the crisis saying violence by both the authorities and the opposition should be condemned.

Lavrov said Russia was certain that outside support for Syria's opposition was creating more unrest throughout the region.

"This surely creates the temptation for various groups in neighbouring countries, countries in the Middle East, to try and use this situation to their own interests," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

But putting some pressure on Assad's regime as well, he added that countries should be pressing the Syrian leadership "to halt its disproportionate use of force."

Lavrov's comments on Syria came in response to a question on a European United Nations resolution condemning human rights abuses by Damascus.

The resolution's backers hope that if the text is successful it will compel the UN Security Council -- where Russia and China have veto power -- to back punitive sanctions against Assad.

The two countries last month vetoed a council resolution condemning the deadly crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's forces which the United Nations says has caused at least 3,500 dead.

© 2011 AFP

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