Syria's future belongs to its people - Russian premier

Syria's future belongs to its people - Russian premier
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stressed that the Syrian people must be allowed to choose their destiny without foreign pressure or interference.

The West continues to exert undue influence on the ongoing Syrian crisis, which pits militant rebels against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Medvedev argued, adding that Russia advocates a hands-off approach to resolving the conflict.

"The situation in Syria causes our greatest concern,” Medvedev told a plenary session of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Laos on Tuesday. “The Russian Federation is certain that it is up to the Syrian people themselves, not international structures or any other forces, to determine this country's future.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed Medvedev’s comments during a meeting with former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who switched to the opposition.

"We do not see any solution other than political dialogue between the government and opposition groups," Lavrov said.

The minister lamented that some participants are not attempting to unite the opposition on the basis of a political, but “on the platform of armed struggle."

Russia and the United States remain split on how to resolve the Syrian crisis, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives since fighting began in March 2011.

Moscow has called for an international commitment to the Kofi Annan peace plan, which demands that the rebel opposition and pro-government forces honor an immediate ceasefire, followed by UN-sponsored negotiations. Throughout the conflict, Moscow has held several meetings with both factions.

Moscow also roundly criticized the United States and its Western allies for openly providing diplomatic and material support for the Syrian opposition, which has reportedly been infiltrated by groups with terrorist affiliations, including Al-Qaeda.

Lavrov also spoke on the political makeup of any future Syrian government, stressing that it was for the Syrian people themselves to decide.

"Concerning the composition of the interim governing body discussed in Geneva, neither we, nor the Americans, or even Arabs, but only Syrians can form this body," he told reporters following talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Lavorv’s comments follow reports that the US is looking for a Syrian opposition organization to replace the Syrian National Council, which Washington has criticized as being “out of touch” with rebel opposition groups.

Robert Bridge, RT