Russia said it won’t take part in the second meeting of nations in the Friends of Syria group in Istanbul on April 1 and criticized the effort for undermining Kofi Annan’s mission to broker peace in the country.
“Its participants aren’t looking for dialogue that could put an end to the conflict,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters in Moscow today, adding that Russia skipped the group’s Feb. 24 meeting in Tunis for the same reason. “On the contrary, it may pave the way for external interference.”
Efforts to resolve the yearlong conflict have so far failed, with Russia and China twice blocking United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at removing President Bashar al-Assad. Syria accepted the six-point peace plan proposed by Annan, a joint UN-Arab League envoy, who urged Assad to immediately implement provisions including a cease-fire.
The Syrian National Council, the leading alliance of opposition groups, said it will lobby Friends of Syria for weapons and recognition when the group of about 70 nations reconvenes in Istanbul.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today said it’s “shortsighted” to think that ousting Assad will resolve the country’s conflict. Annan’s mission to Syria is the “last chance” to prevent civil war in the country, Medvedev told reporters today at the conclusion of a two-day nuclear security summit in Seoul.
Stronger international efforts are needed “now more than ever” to support Annan’s mission, Lukashevich said.
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