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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Russia refuses to attend Friends of Syria meeting

Russia has refused to attend a meeting of the Friends of Syria this week accusing the group of scripting a Libya-type scenario for foreign intervention in Syria.

The Friends of Syria group, set up by some European and Arab states, as well as the United States, will meet for the first time in Tunis on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow had received an invitation, but had neither a list of participants nor the agenda of the meeting. Moscow took objection to the fact that only Syrian opposition, but not the government has been invited to Tunis.

“This means that the interests of the majority of the Syrian population, which supports the authorities, will not be represented,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Therefore the meeting can hardly help start all-Syrian national dialogue in a search for ways to overcome the internal crisis.”

“On the contrary, one gets the impression that some sort of an international coalition is being slapped together, along the lines of the ‘Libya Contact Group’, for the purpose of supporting one side against another in an internal conflict.”

“Given the circumstances, we do not deem it possible to take part in the meeting,” the Russian statement said.

Russia and China vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution earlier this month that supported an Arab demand for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and voted against a similar non-binding resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly last week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called on the Security Council to ask the U.N. Secretary General to send his envoy to Syria to negotiate safe delivery of humanitarian aid.


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