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Kremlin Defends Its Veto at UN on Syria


Russian FM Sergey Lavrov seen during his meeting with Bahraini FM Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifain in Moscow, Russia, February 6, 2012.

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov seen during his meeting with Bahraini FM Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifain in Moscow, Russia, February 6, 2012.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is sharply criticizing the U.N. Security Council for its handling of a controversial resolution on Syria, which Russia and China blocked by using their veto power. Lavrov says the resolution should not have come to a vote before his visit to Damascus, which begins Tuesday.

The Russian foreign minister says Russia specifically asked the Security Council to delay voting on the resolution until after his talks in Damascus. Lavrov contends the decision to go ahead with a vote at the U.N. Saturday was disrespectful.

The senior Russian official says foreign policy and diplomacy must be conducted through all-party discussions, not just by communicating through mass media.

Speaking in Moscow Monday after talks with Bahrain’s visiting foreign minister, Lavrov said the Security Council resolution backed by the Arab League and Western powers was one-sided when it called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cede power, and that's why Russia used its veto power. China also vetoed the resolution.

What made the resolution one-sided, Lavrov says, was its demand for an end to violent action by the Damascus government, without also imposing special, specific obligations on the armed groups battling the Assad regime.

Russia has consistently resisted Western-backed sanctions against Syria. The foreign minister says Russia is pressing the Syrian government to implement democratic reforms. He says other countries are trying to use the issue of violence against protesters to justify sudden, violent changes in that country's government.

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