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Russia questions contact group’s role in Libya

Russia expressed frustration on Friday that the International Contact Group on Libya was taking the leading role in the crisis at the expense of the UN Security Council, where Moscow wields veto power.

“As far as the Contact Group is concerned, this is a self-forming group that is increasingly trying take the lead in setting global policy on Libya,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

“And it is not just Libya — this very structure has been deciding what to do about other countries in the region as well,” he added.

Lavrov’s comments came one day after the group of nations backing foreign military action in Libya agreed to establish a fund to aid Libya’s rebels, with some of the money coming from the frozen assets of Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

Both Russia and China abstained from the UN Security Council vote on Libya in a move that allowed the call for international action to pass.

But Russia has since issued almost daily criticism of the campaign and expressed worries that it might spill over into a ground offensive that aims to either oust or eliminate Kadhafi.

Lavrov stressed the “only the Security Council can exercise political control over the implementation of its own resolution.”

Echoing Lavrov’s comments, Yang said said China always opposed the international use of force.

“We must respect the sovereignty and unity of the Libyan nation,” China’s top diplomat said.

Yang then held separate talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, although the Kremlin provided no immediate details of that meeting.