Last updated: 3 July, 2012

Russia accuses West of distorting agreement on Syria

Russia on Tuesday accused the West of seeking to “distort” the agreement reached last weekend in Geneva on a plan for a political transition to end the escalating conflict in Syria.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed the accord based on proposals by envoy Kofi Annan as an “important step” but said that Western capitals had already read more into the final statement than what was written on paper.

“Unfortunately… some Western participants have started in their public statements to distort the agreements that were reached” in Geneva, he told reporters at a news conference with his Vietnamese counterpart.

“These (Geneva) agreements are not there to be interpreted. They mean exactly what is said in the communique and we need to follow the agreements that were made,” Lavrov added.

“Our (Russian) position is honest and we are not trying to make it seem more than what is written in the text.”

His comments came just after Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters Tuesday that a “shift” in positions by Russia and its diplomatic ally China at the Geneva talks should not be underestimated.

World powers on Saturday agreed a plan for a transition in Syria which did not make an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to quit power. However the West swiftly made clear it saw no role for Assad in a unity government.

“The consensus that was reached in Geneva was a very important step in the consolidation in the positions of all members of the international community… towards solving this problem peacefully and refusing to use military force from whatever side,” Lavrov said.

But he complained that the Syrian opposition had also come out with statements after the meeting that “the decisions of Geneva are unacceptable.”

Russia has been under sustained pressure from the West to publicly call for Assad to quit amid a spiralling conflict that has already claimed over 15,000 lives but Moscow has rejected imposing any outside solution.

Lavrov said that a Syrian opposition delegation was expected in Moscow next week — and not this week as previously planned — in a bid to encourage an end to the violence and the start of dialogue.

He did not give further details about the composition of the delegation.