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Moscow Slams US Recognition of Syria Opposition

RIA Novosti

18:05 12/12/2012

MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - The recognition by the United States of Syria's opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people shows that Washington is gambling on a military victory by the coalition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"I was somewhat surprised to learn that the US, through its president, has recognized the national coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he said.

"That is at odds with the agreements recorded in the Geneva communiqué calling for an all-Syria dialog between the country's government representatives on the one hand and the opposition on the other."

Syria's opposition coalition has declared its refusal to negotiate with the government and defined its chief goal as regime change, Lavrov recalled.

Moscow will seek clarification of the US position on Syria, he added.

"In the course of consultations [three days ago in Geneva], we had the impression that the Americans understand the need for an all-Syrian dialog with the government's participation," he said.

US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday the United States has decided formally to recognize the Syrian opposition rebel coalition that is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

'We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime,' Obama said in an interview with the ABC television network.

He described the move as a "big step."

In a summary of the interview posted on its website, ABC news said the move did not include a decision to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels but opened the door to that possibility in the future.

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNCROF) was formed on November 11 in Doha, Qatar and proclaimed itself the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Its legitimacy has since been recognized by France, the United Kingdom and several other countries.

'Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities,' Obama said. 'To make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, [and] that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights.'



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