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FACTDROP: Russia Faces New Pressure on Syria at UN as Clinton Meets Lavrov for Talks
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3/12/2012

Russia Faces New Pressure on Syria at UN as Clinton Meets Lavrov for Talks

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a photo at the United Nations in New York. 

Πηγή: Bloomberg
By Flavia Krause-Jackson
March 12 2012

Russia faces a renewed attack at the United Nations today over its protection of Syria after President Bashar al-Assad rejected peace proposals by UN envoy Kofi Annan and persevered in a deadly crackdown on protesters.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, will both address the UN Security Council this morning with clashing views on how to tackle a year-old uprising. While the U.S. administration has said Assad must go, Russia has vetoed two draft resolutions in the past five months seeking to hold Assad accountable and support a political transition.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a photo at the United Nations in New York. Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

“Russia may try to find a face-saving compromise with the U.S. to avoid another fallout in the Security Council,” said Lilit Gevorgyan, a Russia analyst at IHS Global Insight in London, in an e-mail. “Still, at this stage it will be damaging for Russia’s image to abandon its position.”

The gathering of the world’s top diplomats in New York follows the failed mission to Syria over the weekend by Annan, another sign that the international community is running out of options over how to stop the violence.

More than 7,500 people have died since anti-government protests started in March 2011, according to UN estimates. The turmoil has sent the value of the Syrian pound plummeting.

Annan, a former UN secretary-general, met twice with Assad, who rejected overtures to talk with opposition groups he labeled terrorists.

At least 108 people were killed yesterday by government forces, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said on its website. Al Arabiya reported 51 people died in Syria today, mostly in the central city of Homs, scenes of some of the worst massacres.

Clinton, Lavrov Talk

Seeking a breakthrough on Syria with the Russians, Clinton will meet with Lavrov later today. It’s their first meeting since Feb. 3, when Clinton failed to convince Russia not to veto a second draft resolution condemning Assad.

Russia, which sells weapons to Syria, is facing growing international pressure to sever ties with a Soviet-era ally. Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union is a naval maintenance and supply center in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea.

There are few indications that the Russia and the Western allies are closer to narrowing their differences. On March 9, negotiations broke down over a proposed U.S.-drafted resolution that “demands an immediate halt to all forms of violence in Syria.” That was the third attempt to get the UN’s decision- making body to agree on action on Syria.
Arab Spring

Annan cautioned Assad yesterday against ignoring the democratic changes of the “Arab Spring” in the region that led to the toppling of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. He told reporters he cited an African proverb to the Syrian president: “You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.”

Al Jazeera television reported women and children were being butchered in the Karam Al-Zaitoun neighborhood of Homs. Video on Al Jazeera showed a room filled with dead children covered with blankets, their necks showing signs of knife wounds.

The Syrian National Council, in a statement posted on its Facebook page, denounced the “grisly crime” in Homs and called on the UN Security Council to take the necessary measures to stop all kinds of “genocide.”

Syria’s state-run news agency SANA said the images from Homs were of “crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups who kidnapped and killed civilians in Homs.” It said those groups escalate “their crimes ahead of UN Security Council sessions to elicit anti-Syria stands.”


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