Russia says it opposes sanctions on Syria

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2012 6:39 AM
Russia says it opposes sanctions on Syria

By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday it remained opposed to sanctions against Syria and signaled no change in its stance over the government's crackdown on protesters seeking an end to President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also reiterated Moscow's opposition to outside military intervention in Syria and called for negotiations to end 10 months of bloodshed in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 civilians have been killed.

Lavrov, whose country is a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, criticized Western powers for seeking the United Nations' "post facto" approval for their "unilateral" actions over Syria.

"We cannot support any proposals for sanctions imposed unilaterally without any consultation with Russia and China ... to be consecrated in hindsight by a Security Council decision," Lavrov told reporters after talks with Turkey's foreign minister on Moscow.

He described such moves as dishonest and counterproductive.

Moscow is one of Assad's remaining allies, and is still delivering Syria arms in defiance of U.S. calls for a moratorium on weapons sales to Damascus.

Russia joined China in October in vetoing a European-drafted Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government and opening the door to possible sanctions, but it has resisted further action.

Russia has also not backed a call by the Arab League call for Assad to step down which has raised pressure on Moscow to explain why it is blocking U.N. action to stop the bloodshed.

Lavrov did not comment on the call for Assad to resign but said Russia would continue to use its contacts with Syria, a close ally during Soviet times, to seek a peaceful resolution.

"We see no easy solutions here so far, but we have agreed to continue this dialogue, to keep in contact with other countries willing to help find a peaceful settlement," he said.

(Reporting By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Timothy Heritage)