Russia offers to draft 'more balanced' Syria resolution
Moscow and Beijing are ready to propose a UN resolution on Syria that is more "balanced" than the West's draft that they controversially vetoed last week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
Lavrov said in an interview with Profil magazine that the Moscow-drafted version would condemn violence carried out both by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the rebel opposition.
His comments came as the Kremlin's Africa envoy Mikhail Margelov hosted in Moscow a Syrian delegation led by Qadri Jamil, a member of the so-called "internal opposition" seen as loyal to Assad.
Russia and China last week infuriated the West by blocking a UN resolution against 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.
The Russian foreign ministry is to host Syria's Jamil for talks on Tuesday, a ministry spokesman told AFP.
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