Russia rejects US charge of ‘enabling’ Assad’s regime

Kerry says Assad’s team “refused to open up one moment of discussion” during meetings last week in Geneva.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 17 Feb 2014, 11:10 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:12 AM

US Secretary of StateJohn Kerry. -AFP

Russia on Monday dismissed US claims that it was “enabling” Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad to stay in power and failing to push for a transitional government that could help end the bloody conflict.

“We have done everything we have promised,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, referring to Moscow’s efforts to get the Damascus regime to hold direct peace talks with opponents.

“First of all, we are working with the Syrian authorities on a daily basis, and second of all, statistics clearly show that the main problems are created not by the regime but by the terrorist and extremist groups that have spread across Syria and that do not answer to any political structure.”

Syria’s civil war has killed more than 140,000 people in nearly three years of fighting.

US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia on Monday of not doing enough to make sure the Syrian regime remained committed to the so-called Geneva II peace process that broke up in acrimony on Saturday without an agreement on further talks.

Kerry said Russia “has stood up publicly with me on several occasions and said they’re committed to that transition government... yet we have not seen the kind of effort to create the dynamic by which that can be achieved”.

Lavrov for his part noted that the Syrian opposition delegation at the Geneva negotiations was not represented by some of the most important members of the National Coalition umbrella group.

“They (Washington) assured us that they will be doing everything possible to ensure there is a truly representative opposition delegation,” Russia’s top diplomat said.

“For now, they have been having trouble doing this.”

Lavrov added that Russia was looking into reports about some foreign opposition backers working on the creation of a new Syrian opposition organisation that favoured the military overthrow of Assad instead of further talks.

“They want this new group to replace the National Coalition,” said Lavrov, without specifying which countries were involved or where the information had come from.

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