Russia assails UN rights body's motion on Syria

AP News
Posted: May 29, 2013 6:24 AM
Russia assails UN rights body's motion on Syria

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday sharply criticized a draft resolution on Syria to be considered by the United Nations' top human rights body, saying the move would hamper peace efforts.

Sergey Lavrov said that the document, which set to be considered Wednesday by the U.N. Human Rights Council, was "odious and one-sided" and could undercut the efforts by the U.S. and Russia to sponsor a peace conference on Syria to end its two-year civil war that killed more than 70,000 people.

The draft, submitted by Qatar, Turkey and the United States, condemns the use of heavy weapons against civilians and other rights abuses by the Syrian regime.

Speaking at a briefing in Moscow, Lavrov said he learned to his "great surprise" that the U.S. was among the authors of the draft resolution, saying it runs contrary to the U.S. pledge to help organize the peace conference.

"If we all adhere to such settlement, then we must avoid one-sided spoilers and do everything to persuade all opposition members to sit down for talks without any preconditions," Lavrov said. "It's necessary that all of us work honestly and without double standards, speaking in support of the conference while simultaneously taking action to derail the proposal."

Lavrov also reaffirmed Russia's strong criticism of the European Union's decision Tuesday to lift its arms embargo for Syrian rebels, saying it has created a "very serious obstacle" for the peace conference. He insisted that the EU move defied the international law and its own rules prohibiting the arms sales to non-state actors.

Russia has been the key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, protecting his regime from U.N. sanctions and continuing to provide him with weapons.

Lavrov's deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, said Tuesday that Russia has a contract to provide Syria with long-range S-300 air defense missile systems and won't abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism.