Russia to push Syria peace plan at UNSC

September 9th, 2012 - 5:05 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia will push the UN Security Council this month to endorse a Syria peace plan brokered in Geneva, Russia’s foreign minister has said.

“We stressed at a meeting with US State Secretary (Hillary Clinton) that Russia will call for the Security Council’s approval of the Geneva communique,” Sergei Lavrov said in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

The Security Council is due to meet later this month to address the crisis in Syria.

World powers agreed in Geneva June 30 that a transitional government should be set up in Syria in order to end the escalating conflict there.

Activists say around 20,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year.

Russia said the Geneva plan did not imply that Assad should step down, but Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would not be included in the new body.

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok, Lavrov said Russia and the West had “common goals”.

“We want Syria to be a free, democratic, prosperous country led by a government elected by the people,” he said.

Lavarov also gave his backing to a proposal by an opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, to hold a conference in Damascus later this month to agree on a common negotiating platform for talks with Assad’s government.

Lavrov also expressed concern that US sanctions on Syria and Iran were harming Russian business interests.

“The unilateral American sanctions against Syria and Iran are increasingly becoming extra-territorial in nature and are directly affecting the interests of Russian business, in particular banks,” the minister said.

Washington imposed travel bans and asset freezes against Assad and other senior officials. It also barred US companies from doing business with Syria, and introduced sanctions on Syria’s state-run oil company Sytrol.

Lavrov said Russia did not support “any sanctions” in Syria because “sanctions will not bring about anything”.

The US has also imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear programme which it fears is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its programme is for civilian use.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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