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Russia urging Syria to support Annan mission: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov advocates Syria and the UN Security Council member-states to have 'full cooperation' with the mission UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan

AFP, Friday 16 Mar 2012
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (3rd L) meets with representatives of opposition Syrian National Council in Ankara March 13, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Russia said Friday it was using its contacts with the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad to urge Damascus to fully cooperate with the mission of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Speaking ahead of a video conference Annan was to hold with the UN in New York later Friday on his mission to find a settlement to the crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said all the UN Security Council members had a duty to support his efforts.

"We are working with Kofi Annan on a day-to-day basis and are sending relevant signals to Damascus to ensure full cooperation with his mission by the Syrian leadership," Lavrov told a televised news conference.

He added: "We are expecting all members of the Security Council to support his efforts."

"This means that not only China and us should send Damascus a signal to fully cooperate with Kofi Annan's mission, but other Security Council members should also do their job and demand the opposition not provoke an escalation of the situation."

The UN Security Council should also urge the Syrian opposition to "fully cooperate with Kofi Annan and constructively respond to the proposals which it (his mission) puts forward," he added.

The former UN secretary general -- who met with Assad in Damascus earlier this month -- has said his talks were centred on the need for an immediate halt to the violence and killings, as well as access to humanitarian organisations and further dialogue.

Russia, along with China, infuriated the West by vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's regime and has shown little inclination to shift its policy despite heavy Western and Arab pressure.

However some Western officials have detected a possible adjustment in tone from Russia in recent days, with Lavrov openly criticising Assad's reluctance to swiftly embrace reform.

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