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Friends of Syria undermine peace process - Lavrov

The actions of Friends of Syria group of states jeopardize realization of the UN peace plan for Syria, undermining international efforts to end violence in the country, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said.

“Everybody backed [Kofi] Annan’s [peace] plan,” he noted. “Then all of a sudden another meeting of the Friends of Syria group makes decisions, urging [the Syrian] opposition to refuse negotiations and arm, promising new sanctions [against Syria].”Lavrov stressed this undermines actions to stop violence in the country that the Friends of Syria want to deal with the Syrian opposition only, making the deadlock irresolvable.While the UN tries to solve the Syrian situation peacefully, the Friends of Syria summit announced plans that threaten to make the UN’s effort in vain. The US has announced it is going to spend $12 million on the Syrian opposition, twice as much as it promised before. The Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar expressed readiness to pay salaries to the armed opposition members, making them look more like an army of mercenaries than opposition activists.Earlier, these two countries spoke in favor of arming the Syrian opposition so as it can “defend” itself against the regular army of Syria.The Friends of Syria summit also recognized the opposition Turkey-based Syrian National Council as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people – without actually taking the people’s opinion into account.All other members of the group expressed support to the Syrian opposition and none to official Damascus.Friends of Syria have already agreed on holding another summit – this time in France.In the meantime, the delegation of the UN is expected to arrive into Syria within the next 48 hours.The Syrian government has expressed its commitment to Kofi Annan’s peace plan. The government of President Bashar Assad agreed on the ceasefire deadline be set on April 10, and has already begun to withdraw troops from the calmer cities.As for the opposition, it remains unclear whether the major armed opposition group, the Free Syrian Army, will abide by the ceasefire.“Even if the Syrian opposition were armed to teeth, it would not be able to beat the government’s forces,” insists the Russian FM. “They expect to attract external forces.”Lavrov says both the Syrian government and the international forces should closely follow UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s mission in Syria in order to achieve success.

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