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World’s demand that al-Assad go can lead to civil war, Russian FM

February 15, 2012, 23:04 UTC+3

He stressed that Russia remains open to work on Syria in the United Nations with all interested parties

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VIENNA, February 15 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opposed Western demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should go.

“If some members of the international community demand the change of the regime in Syria as a precondition for talks, this is a road to a full-scale civil war. If we want to stop the bloodshed, we should give up preconditions and demand that all parties without exception stop violence and begin negotiations,” Lavrov said after talks with his Austrian counterpart on Wednesday, February 15.

“There is nothing impossible if negotiations are started. An agreement can be achieved on anything that is now rejected by the opposition. By so doing they assume responsibility for casualties among civilians,” he said.

He stressed that Russia remains open to work on Syria in the United Nations with all interested parties.

When asked why Russia had vetoed the previous U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, Lavrov said that it “demanded that the regime capitulate and transfer the power to armed people”.

He repeated his position announced earlier that peacekeepers can be deployed in Syria only with the consent of all parties.

“I have heard that our French colleagues are planning a relevant resolution in the U.N. I have not seen it. I will meet with the French foreign minister tomorrow and I hope he will tell me about it,” Lavrov said.

“One thing is clear: any decision to deploy an international presence should be adopted with the consent of the parties to the conflict. This is the underlying principle that cannot be ignored,” he said.

Russian representatives can join a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Syria if Damascus agrees, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said earlier.

Russia will not object to sending a peacekeeping mission to Syria if the U.N. Charter is honoured, he said.

“The deployment of such a mission should be negotiated with the Syrian government. This raises the question of its composition, tasks and mandate,” he said.

“If we agree to the terms of its deployment that are acceptable to us, if the principles based on the U.N. Charter and international relations are observed, we will see no problem there,” the diplomat said.

The resolution adopted on February 12 after a meeting of the League of Arab States’ foreign ministers called for sending joint peacekeeping troops of the United Nations and Arab states to Syria in order to stop the conflict that has been going on for 11 months. However Damascus rejected the resolution.

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