Russia Hits Back at U.S. over Syria Interference Threatإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Russia on Tuesday defended its ally Syria against the threat of outside interference after U.S. President Barack Obama called the use of chemical weapons by the regime a "red line".
"There should be no interference from the outside," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a day after Washington raised the possibility of unilateral military action.
"The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue," Russia's top diplomat told reporters after talks with Syria's visiting Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil.
Obama on Monday put the Syrian regime on notice by warning of "enormous consequences" should it start using a chemical weapons stockpile it only acknowledged having for the first time last month.
The U.S. leader said pointedly that he had not ordered military engagement against Syrian strongman leader Bashar Assad's forces "at this point".
But Assad's use of chemical weapons "would change my calculations significantly," Obama said.
Washington has expressed particular concern about reports that Syrian forces were starting to move the stockpiles in an apparent attempt to keep them safe from the ever-expanding zone of conflict.
Lavrov refused to field questions from reporters and did not specifically mention either Obama or the use of chemical weapons in his brief remarks.
But he delivered a similar message after a meeting earlier in the day with a senior official from China -- a country that together with Russia blocked three U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's regime.
Lavrov on Tuesday also expressed frustration with what he called the Syrian government's overly cautious approach to direct negotiations with the armed opposition.
He had said on meeting Jamil on Tuesday that the Damascus government's current policies were "not enough" to halt the 17-month conflict and urged a more energetic approach.
Lavrov repeated that message after the meeting with Jamil while insisting that all Russia or any other outside player could do was help promote talks.
"Something could have been done differently," Lavrov said of previous undelivered Syrian reform promises.
"But the most important thing is that the right course has been set," Lavrov added in reference to the need for talks.