Russia Slams 'One Sided' Friends of Syria Meeting

Russia on Monday slammed as "one-sided" last week's Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis that condemned Damascus for its crackdown and vowed further sanctions against the Syrian regime.

"The meeting that was held in Tunis was clearly one-sided... It is clear to us that this meeting did not help create conditions that would stimulate all sides to seek a political solution," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

Russia boycotted the Tunis meeting after arguing that its Arab and Western participants were unfairly blaming one side of an "internal conflict" for violence that the opposition estimates has claimed more than 7,600 lives.

Moscow has infuriated the West by refusing to single out President Bashar Assad's regime over the deadly crisis and its assertion that both government forces and the opposition bear equal responsibility for the violence.

U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton on Friday called Russia's position "distressing".

Lavrov was not asked about Clinton's comments and did not volunteer any response of his own.

But he stressed that it the West's obligation to use its good standing with the Syrian opposition to call "on everyone who is shooting there to halt (the violence) as soon as possible."

He also welcomed the constitutional referendum that Assad staged on Sunday amid the bloodshed as "an important step" and "movement toward democratization".

Source: Agence France Presse

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