MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized a U.S.-backed draft resolution condemning the Syrian government before a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday, saying it was "odious" and would undermine peace efforts.
Lavrov said U.S. support for the draft resolution, which would condemn "widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights" by Syrian authorities and affiliated militias, ran counter to U.S.-Russian efforts to convene a peace conference.
"The U.S. delegation is very actively promoting this extremely unwholesome initiative," Lavrov told a news conference after talks with Latin American counterparts in Moscow.
He said the draft was "unilateral and odious" and likened it to a U.N. General Assembly resolution adopted earlier this month that he said was aimed at creating obstacles to U.S.-Russian efforts to foster a peaceful solution.
Lavrov said it was unacceptable to support the conference, which he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are trying to organize, while at the same time "taking steps that are in essence aimed at undermining this proposal".
Lavrov also reiterated Russia's insistence that Iran be invited to the conference, an idea opposed by France, and said opponents of President Bashar al-Assad should be persuaded to enter negotiations "without preconditions" such as his exit.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Elizabeth Piper)