3 May 2013, 22:18

Lavrov attacks suggestions for arming Syria rebels

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed suggestions for supplying the Syrian opposition with weapons, claiming that such initiatives represent preference for a military solution to the Syrian conflict and again insisting on a negotiated settlement.

"Starting to talk about whether to provide the opposition with armaments - lethal or non-lethal products - means preference for a military scenario and not for a political settlement," Lavrov told a news conference after talks with Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec.

"Arming non-state players runs against international law," Lavrov said.

"Those who are talking about the need for a military solution to the problem should realize that they are paying for their geopolitical ambitions of overthrowing the regime with more and more fatalities among the Syrian population," he said.

Lavrov is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry soon, and the Russian minister expressed hope that he and Kerry would be able to look for a political solution to the Syrian conflict during their meeting.

Lavrov again called for compliance with the Geneva agreement. “However, the solution of the Syrian conflict may be found only through talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, like the Geneva Communique on Syria suggests.

“The creation of humanitarian corridors and no-fly zones, like the UN Security Council suggests, may stir attempts to interfere in the Syrian conflict from outside,” Mr. Lavrov said. “This is why Russia and China are against this idea.”

“Russia is ready for talks with any opposition forces in Syria, including the Free Syrian Army,” he added. 

Russia against use of refugee problem to set up no fly zones over Syria - Lavrov

Moscow is against proposals for using the refugee problem as the reason for setting up humanitarian corridors in Syria and no fly zones over the country, seeing such initiatives as preparations for foreign interference in the Syrian conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Friday.

"If there has been an attempt at the Security Council to exploit the situation with refugees from Syria to lobby some ideas of humanitarian corridors, safe areas, no fly zones, we, the Chinese and some other countries probably see that situation as an attempt to prepare the ground for external interference," Lavrov.

He mentioned, however, that it is part of the duties of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to send inspectors to refugee camps and said Moscow fully supports this.

The 15 Security Council member nations discussed on Thursday the possibility of sending a delegation to visit the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan but Russia and China opposed the idea, diplomats said.

Jordan this week warned that the growing exodus of Syrian refugees who had flooded over its border to escape civil war -- already over 500,000 - was placing a "crushing weight" on the country.

The UNHCR has said the number of refugees in Jordan could reach 1.2 million by the end of the year - equivalent to one fifth of the Jordanian population.

Russian Foreign Minister now in Slovenia

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is now in Slovenia, meeting with the country’s top officials.

Mr. Lavrov has already met with Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor and is going to meet with Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec.

The main topics of discussions will be security in Europe and simplifying the visa regime between Russia and Slovenia.

In Slovenia, Sergey Lavrov has also taken part in a presentation of a documentary titled “The Russian Battalion”. The film tells about Soviet people who fought against the Nazis in Slovenia during WWII.

Mr. Lavrov says that both Russians and Slovenians are interested in truthfully depicting the events of WWII.

Voice of Russia, TASS, Interfax, RIA Novosti

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