US urges Russia to join UN action on Syria
The United States on Tuesday urged Russia to back UN Security Council action on Syria, after UN officials said the death toll in the months-long Syrian protests had exceeded 5,000.
"Frankly we think that it is past time for the UN Security Council to speak up," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, denouncing Security Council silence on the Syrian regime as "unconscionable."
"And we are again calling on our partners on the Security Council to be willing to take action and speak out for the innocents in Syria who are suffering at the hands of the regime, including Russia," Nuland said.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed as "immoral" Western accusations it was blocking UN action condemning the deadly crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Russia and China in October used a rare double veto to block a Western-backed resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Moscow said then that the action was one-side and on Tuesday argued that "armed extremist groups" were becoming increasingly reckless as Western pressure on Assad grew.
When asked to comment on Lavrov's remarks, Nuland replied: "We think it's the Assad regime that is immoral in the violence it's perpetrating on its own people."
© 2011 AFP