Russia offers to draft 'more balanced' Syria resolution

10th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Moscow and Beijing are ready to propose a UN resolution on Syria that is more "balanced" than the West's draft, condemning both regime and opposition violence, Russia's foreign minister said in an interview published Monday.

Sergei Lavrov's comments came as the Kremlin's Africa envoy Mikhail Margelov was hosting in Moscow a Syrian delegation led by Qadri Jamil, who is seen as a close aide to President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia and China last week infuriated the West by blocking a UN resolution against President Assad's deadly crackdown on protests, even after the West dropped the word "sanctions" from a draft to temper Russian opposition.

"We propose to adopt a balanced resolution that would condemn violence from both sides," Lavrov told Profil magazine in comments released Monday.

"At the same time we need to demand from Assad a continuation of reforms which he has already embarked upon."

"Apart from that, we need to encourage the Syrian opposition to come to the negotiating table and try to reach an agreement. Together with our Chinese partners we are ready to offer such a resolution," Lavrov said.

The foreign minister expressed concern that the West-drafted resolution would open the way for a full-scale arms embargo against Russia's traditional ally in the Middle East.

"We remember how an embargo was implemented in relation to Libya," he said. "We are also well aware of our partners' ability to arm one of the sides in the conflict despite an embargo," he said.

In March, Russia abstained from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya that essentially authorised military action, later accusing the West of abusing Moscow's goodwill.

Outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that Assad should either reform or go but warned that Moscow would continue blocking any attempts by the West to oust him from power.

© 2011 AFP

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