Topic: Protests in Syria
MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti)
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told President al-Assad of Syria he had to do what it takes to ensure peace in the country, during talks in Damascus on Tuesday.
“Every leader in every country should understand their responsibility. You understand yours,” Lavrov told Assad, adding "it's in our interests that the Arab peoples live in peace and harmony."
Lavrov’s visit comes three days after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria.
He arrived along with his Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov.
Lavrov had not revealed the purpose of his mission, telling a news conference in Moscow on Monday it would be “unveiled only to the addressee.”
Ahead of the visit, he said the UN Security Council was too “hasty” in bringing the resolution to a vote and described Western condemnation of Moscow’s veto as “hysterical.”
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the Russian and Chinese vetoes as a “fiasco” and said that his country was preparing a new initiative.
“We will start a new initiative with those countries who stand by the Syrian people, not the regime,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara.
The talks between Assad and Lavrov are taking place as Syrian authorities continued to bombard the city of Homs, a center of resistance to his regime. The Syrian government denied targeting civilians and say security forces killed “dozens of terrorists” in Homs on Monday.
Homs has been under attack from government forces for weeks. About one hundred people were reported killed on Monday alone.
Human rights groups say more than 7,000 people have died since the uprising began in March last year. The government says around 2,000 members of its security forces have been killed in the unrest.
EU foreign police chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday EU foreign ministers would meet in two weeks to discuss ways to stop violence in Syria.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the violence in Syria was “totally unacceptable before humanity.”
The U.S. State Department said on Monday it had shut its embassy in Damascus.
Russia is one of Syria’s main arms suppliers. In December, Russia signed a $550 million contract to sell Syria 36 Yak-130 combat trainer jets, and a Russian-owned ship reportedly carrying ammunition docked at a Syrian port last month.
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News that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would resign in order to run for the mayoral election in September came as quite a shock. Sobyanin’s political potential is fairly dubious, not to mention his approval ratings. He has not finished many of the projects he initiated and the electoral effect from these projects is expected to come a bit later than September 2013. Sobyanin’s opponents were not entirely unprepared for this blitzkrieg.