News / Middle East

Russia Criticizes EU for Dropping Syrian Rebel Arms Ban

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing in Moscow, Dec. 15, 2008. (File)
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing in Moscow, Dec. 15, 2008. (File)
VOA News
Russia has criticized the European Union's decision to amend its arms embargo on Syria, saying the move will hurt efforts to hold a peace conference aimed at ending the country's violence.

The EU agreed Monday to keep sanctions against the Syrian government, but to allow weapons to be sent to the main opposition Syrian National Coalition.

Russian news agency Itar-Tass quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov saying Tuesday the decision directly harms prospects for the peace talks that Russia and the United States proposed for next month.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday after meeting in Paris to discuss the plan that they remain hopeful, despite the challenges they face in pulling together the multi-national effort.

Lavrov calls the task a "very tall order," but says Russia and the United States will do everything they can to make the initiative successful.

The EU says it will evaluate the state of those proposed talks and consult with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before any actual arms shipments take place. That decision will come before August 1st.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the amended embargo puts pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to seek a non-military solution to more than two years of fighting.



"This is a strong signal to the Assad regime, that it needs to engage on the political process and, as I have always said and as I have said to our parliament last week, we would only take the step of sending arms in company with other nations in carefully controlled circumstances and in compliance with international law. But this decision today gives us the flexibility in the future to respond to a worsening situation or to a refusal of the Assad regime to negotiate."





Britain and France have been the main advocates of arming the Syrian rebels, while Austria and Sweden have led a small group resisting the move with fears it could worsen Syria's civil war.

The EU recognizes the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and has strongly encouraged the group to take part in the peace talks. Mr. Assad's government has already agreed "in principle" to participate.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt expresses optimism about finding a political solution and cautions that now is not the time to send arms to Syria.



"I think it is very important that we have a very solid support for the political process. Because we now have the first possibility for a very long time, as a matter of fact since the last summer, for a political process and I think it is extremely important not to do anything to rock the boat. To start delivering weapons now would rock the boat. No one is intending to do that."



The U.S.-Russian plan is to bring together the Syrian government and the opposition to negotiate terms for a transitional government in Syria.

Russia reiterated Monday its support for including Iran in the peace conference. Both Russia and Iran are Syrian allies.

The United States has long criticized Iranian support for Mr. Assad, accusing Tehran of exacerbating the Syrian conflict rather than being part of the solution.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid