Lavrov: Western countries try to distort Geneva agreement on Syria

Published July 3rd, 2012 - 12:43 GMT

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday accused Western countries of trying to distort the agreement reached in Geneva on Saturday on the principles of a political transition in Syria as proposed by international mediator Kofi Annan. "Unfortunately, some representatives of the Syrian opposition have started saying that the Geneva agreement was unacceptable to them, and likewise, some Western participants in the Geneva meeting began in public statements to distort the compromise we found," Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.

"It is useless to interpret these compromises. They are exactly what is written in the (final) press release and we must stick to that," Mr. Lavrov said, without specifying the countries to which he referred.

These comments come shortly after those of Kofi Annan's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, who argued that the international meeting in Geneva on Syria had helped lead to a change in the positions of Russia and China.

On Saturday in Geneva, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, China, Russia, France, Great Britain) as well as Turkey and countries representing the Arab League agreed on the principles of a transition in Syria. After the meeting, members of the Task Force on Syria differed on the interpretation of the agreement. The United States said it paved the way for the post-Assad period, while Russia and China reaffirmed that it was the Syrians to determine their future.

"The consensus reached in Geneva is an important step towards consolidating the positions of all members of the international community (...) to resolve this issue peacefully and avoid resorting to military force of any either side," said Mr Lavrov.

The Russian minister also said that a delegation of the Syrian opposition was expected in Moscow next week - not this week as originally planned – within the efforts to end violence and encourage the opening of a dialogue. He did not specify the composition of the delegation.

Lavrov also said Russia would not participate in the meeting of the Friends of the Syria in Paris Friday, stressing that such a format was not necessary after the Geneva meeting.

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