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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Lavrov Denies Russia 'Changed Stance' on Syria

RIA Novosti

20:18 21/06/2012 ST. PETERSBURG, June 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected recent comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron that Russia has changed its stance on Syria.

Lavrov told Echo Moskvy radio on Thursday that the comments were "inappropriate for a politician at such a high level."

Cameron, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, told reporters on Tuesday that "it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria," news agencies reported.

But Lavrov said leaders "should not interpret the content of their conversations this way.”

Moscow supports possible negotiations between the conflicting parties at an international meeting on Syria but opposes imposition of a settlement from outside, Lavrov said.

“There should be an appropriate agenda at the international conference (on Syria), which everybody is discussing now. We should not interfere in Syrian affairs from the outside, should not prejudge the agreements that have to be met by the Syrians, but try to bring them to the negotiating table,” Lavrov said.

Both the opposition and the Syrian government must act to salvage the plan brokered by UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, Lavrov said. Implementation of the Annan plan should be under the supervision of UN observers, whose number can be increased if necessary, he said.

An international conference on Syria to be held in Geneva on June 30 was announced on Thursday.

Earlier in the day the Russian Foreign Minister said the conference should include all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Syria's neighbors (Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon), as well as key players in the region (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran) and international organizations (League of Arab States, European Union).

According to UN estimates, about 12,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Assad in March 2011.

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