Russia: No discussions on post-Assad Syria

Published June 15th, 2012 - 11:52 GMT

Russia denied Friday it is engaged in discussions with the West on political changes in Syria that would involve the departure of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow also denied even considering preparations for the political transition in Syria. "I read somewhere today that the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, Victoria Nuland, conveyed in a statement that the United States and Russia were discussing political changes in Syria after the departure of President Bashar al-Assad" , said the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov during a press conference.

"If she really was saying this, it is false. Such discussions have not taken place and can not take place. This is in total contradiction with our position, "he said, after a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari. "We are not involved in regime change through the UN Security Council or political plots," Lavrov said.

Ms. Nuland said Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting in Kabul that the United States and Russia had disagreements over Syria, but that the two countries continue to speak of a post-Assad transition strategy. "

France also said Friday that Russia, a close ally of Damascus, was engaged in discussions to prepare for the period after Bashar al-Assad.

"The Russians are currently not attached to the personality of Bashar al-Assad, they see that he is a tyrant and a murderer and they themselves believe this dictator will weaken," said the foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, on France Inter radio. "But they are sensitive, if Bashar is ousted, who will (replace him). The discussion focuses on it," said the head of French diplomacy, raising the possibility of a meeting of the new contact group on Syria on June 30 in Geneva.

Lavrov said Russia was ready to attend such a meeting under certain conditions. The Russian minister stressed the presence of Iran – an ally and a neighbor of Syria – in the discussions to end the revolt in Syria, which has claimed nearly 15,000 lives since it began in March 2011.

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