Kremlin firmly opposes UN sanctions on Syria

AP News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 10:00 AM
Kremlin firmly opposes UN sanctions on Syria

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that a United Nations resolution on Syria should send a signal both to its government and the opposition and must not contain sanctions.

Medvedev, who spoke after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, said Russia and Britain continue to disagree on Syria. Russia has opposed a draft U.N. resolution backed by European nations and the U.S. that would impose an arms embargo and other sanctions on Syria.

Medvedev said that Moscow believes that any U.N. resolution on Syria must be aimed at both the government and the opposition.

"Russia proceeds from the assumption that it's necessary to approve a resolution on Syria that will be tough, but well balanced at the same time that would address both parties to the conflict _ President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition," Medvedev said. "Only in that case could it be successful."

Medvedev added that Moscow believes there is no need to introduce new U.N. sanctions against Syria in addition to the U.S. and the EU sanctions already in place.

"The resolution must be tough, but it mustn't automatically involve sanctions," he said. "There is absolutely no need now for any additional pressure."

Medvedev and other Russian officials have criticized Syrian authorities for using excessive force in trying to quash opposition protests but warned the West against trying to emulate the Libyan experience, in which NATO helped rebel forces drive longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi from the capital Tripoli.

Medvedev's statement came as a Kremlin envoy for the region, Mikhail Margelov, met with Assad's adviser Buthaina Shaaban. Margelov said that Russia will send a delegation of lawmakers to Syria to help establish a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

"We don't want the Libyan scenario to be repeated in Syria," said Margelov, who met last week with a Syrian opposition delegation.

Shaaban said that about 700 soldiers and police have died in the unrest that has swept Syria and approximately the same number of people have been killed on the opposition side. She rejected the death toll of at least 2,600 given Monday by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.