Middle East

Russia slams Clinton for Syria opposition remarks

Albanian President Bujar Nishani (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shake hands following a meeting, in Tirana, Albania, on November 1, 2012. AFP PHOTO/GENT SHKULLAKU

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday blasted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call for an overhaul of the Syrian opposition and accused Washington of trying to solve the conflict on its own terms.

The Russian foreign ministry said Clinton's comments on the Syrian National Council (SNC) no longer representing the entire anti-regime movement clashed with the agreements world powers reached on the conflict in Geneva in June.

"We heard direct orders (from the United States) about what the Syrian opposition should do to form a 'government in exile,' and about who should join such a government -- up to specific people," the Russian statement said.

It noted that Washington and Moscow had both agreed in Geneva to support setting up a transition government that would be decided by the Syrians people as a first step for ending the 20-month crisis.

Clinton this week said the SNC "can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition" -- comments that came just days ahead of an important Syrian opposition meeting in Qatar.

Russia also accused US officials of starting to simply ignore Russia and China's joint resistance to what Moscow sees as international efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"US representatives are saying that they do not intend to wait for a change in Russia and China's position. So they are bluntly making clear that they see the Syria conflict being settled exclusively on their terms," the ministry said.

Russia and China have vetoed several UN Security Council resolutions to end the crisis in Syria.

Moscow has viewed the ruling Syrian government as its last important Middle East ally and has refused to cut military cooperation with Assad's regime.





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