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Russia presents draft U.N. resolutions on "terrorism", aid in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS: Russia has presented draft U.N. Security Council resolutions on humanitarian aid access and the fight against "terrorism" in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

Moscow's calls for a resolution condemning acts of "terrorism" are in tune with rhetoric from Damascus, which uses the term to describe all those fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow earlier this week made clear it would reject a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria in its existing form, saying it was biased against the government of Assad.

Lavrov said Russia's own draft on aid access set out "our vision of the role the Security Council can play if we want to foster a solution to the problems and not antagonise one side or the other".

"We have presented our own draft resolution on Syria to the U.N. Security Council," Lavrov told a news conference, adding that it laid out "our vision of the role the Security Council can play if we want to foster a solution to the problems and not antagonise one side or the other".

Its own draft UN Security Council resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians does not include the threat of sanctions on the Damascus regime.

He said the original draft on humanitarian assistance backed by Western and Arab states "is prepared in the form of an ultimatum. There are threats of sanctions."

"But we insist on the need to focus on practical work," Lavrov told reporters.

"The difference between their resolution and our understanding of the situation is that they take a very selective interpretation of the situation," Russia's top diplomat said.

"They heap all the blame on the regime, without devoting the necessary attention to the humanitarian problems that are being created by the actions of the rebels."

Since receiving the original resolution, which was drafted by Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan, Moscow has been outspoken in its opposition. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it as "detached from reality," while U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed it as a "non-starter."

On Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov added to Moscow's argument: "Its whole purpose and aim is to create grounds for future military action against the Syrian government if some demands it includes are not met."

"It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through," said Gatilov, according to state-run news agency RIA.

Several diplomats, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Churkin had told the Security Council on Tuesday he did not like 30 percent of the original draft resolution, but did not specify what aspects he disagreed with.

The UN's mediator on the Syria conflict was to meet Gatilov and US diplomats in Geneva on Thursday.

After three days spent trading blame for the violence wracking Syria, representatives of Assad's regime and the opposition National Coalition had no scheduled meetings in Geneva Thursday.

"The presence now of the United States and Russia comes at the right time," opposition chief negotiator Hadi Bahra told AFP, saying there was a need to "straighten out the negatives."

The talks that began on January 22 were initiated by Washington, which backs the opposition, and Moscow, a key ally of Syria.

 

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Summary

Russia has presented draft U.N. Security Council resolutions on humanitarian aid access and the fight against "terrorism" in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

Moscow earlier this week made clear it would reject a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria in its existing form, saying it was biased against the government of Assad.

Its own draft UN Security Council resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians does not include the threat of sanctions on the Damascus regime.

Several diplomats, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Churkin had told the Security Council on Tuesday he did not like 30 percent of the original draft resolution, but did not specify what aspects he disagreed with.


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