Russia says Annan welcomes another meeting of action group on Syria

Russia says Annan welcomes another meeting of action group on Syria
# 18 July 2012 21:20 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Russia said Wednesday UN-Arab League joint special envoy Kofi Annan had welcomed Moscow’s proposal for a new meeting of an action group on Syria, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"We have suggested to him to call once again the so-called action group at, perhaps, the experts and political directors level," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference here.

He said Moscow considered the new meeting a good chance to correct the failure to invite Iran and Saudi Arabia to the previous Geneva meeting.

He said Annan shared Moscow’s position that the meeting would be useful.

Meanwhile, Lavrov reiterated Russia’s opposition to possible UN sanctions against Syria and urged the international community to facilitate a peaceful settlement to the 16-month crisis in the country.

Some members of the UN Security Council believed unilateral sanctions against Damascus were needed, but the consequences of such sanctions would lead to a civil war in the country, Lavrov said.

"Putting pressure on one side means being dragged into a civil war and interfering in a country’s internal affairs," he said, noting a Western-proposed draft resolution to the UN Security Council, which contains threats of sanctions against Syria.

The draft resolution was "trying to rewrite the outcomes (of the Geneva meeting) unilaterally," Lavrov said.

The action group of world powers met in Geneva on June 30 and agreed upon a roadmap for a Syrian-led transition.

Lavrov’s remarks came one day after Annan’s second visit to Moscow, where the envoy met with the foreign minister and President Vladimir Putin on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

During Annan’s visit, Russia reaffirmed its support to his six-point peace plan, which emphasizes political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis in the conflict-torn Arab country.

For his part, Annan hoped the UN Security Council members could manage to figure out "acceptable wording suitable for all."

The Security Council will vote Wednesday on the draft resolution amid divisions among the world superpowers.

The draft urges the Security Council to take military and non-military action under the Chapter VII of the UN Charter to restore international peace and security.

Russia circulated its own draft resolution last week, which proposed to extend the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) for another three months, reduce the number of military observers and ask the operation to take on a more political mission.

The initial 90-day mandate of the UNSMIS will expire on Friday.