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US, Russian positions on Syria gradually converge, Department of State says

March 15, 2012, 3:27 UTC+3

United States “wants to see an end to the violence and we want to see a political discussion begin”

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WASHINGTON, March 15 (Itar-Tass) — The U.S. administration believes that the American and Russian positions on Syria are gradually converging, thus increasing international pressure on the Bashar al-Assad government.

“They begin to close some of the gaps. So are we there yet? No, we’re not there yet, but we are continuing to work on this. But we have seen an increasing convergence,” State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

She believes that the five-point settlement plan for Syria approved by Russia and the League of Arab States is “an improvement over where we had been previously in some of the Russian positions”.

“You’re now seeing public statements both from Russia and from China that are quite clearly saying that they are not interested in protecting Assad, that they are not interested in anything but something that ends the violence,” Nuland said.

“I think it’s clear that the trip that Foreign Minister Lavrov made, his consultations with the Arab League ministers, his consultations in New York, including with the Secretary, have had an impact on his public message that Russia doesn’t want to be seen as aiding and abetting this violence. I think we continue to have tactical differences about how to bring an end to it, but we’re seeking to narrow those,” she said.

Nuland stressed that the United States “wants to see an end to the violence and we want to see a political discussion begin.”

She is confident that Assad “is going to go down” as a result of growing protests inside the country, economic sanctions imposed by the West and mounting international pressure on the ruling regime in Damascus.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed hope that

Russia will support the American draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

She is hopeful that after consultations on Monday, March 12, meetings in Cairo and Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria Kofi Annan’s visit to Damascus, the U.N. Security Council will be able to work out a solution that will end the crisis in Syria.

She expects Russia and other countries to support the U.S. on this issue.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow is ready to approve a resolution on Syria if the five principles agreed with the League of Arab States (LAS) are taken into account: cessation of violence by all parties; impartial monitoring mechanism; no external interference; unhindered access to humanitarian aid for all Syrians; and firm support to Kofi Annan's mission. 

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