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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia 'to Push Syria Peace Accord at UN'

RIA Novosti

10:14 08/09/2012

MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will push the UN Security Council this month to endorse a Syria peace plan brokered in Geneva, Russia's foreign minister said on Saturday.

"We stressed at a meeting with U.S. State Secretary [Hillary Clinton] that Russia will call for the Security Council's approval of the Geneva communiqué," Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Russia's Pacific port of Vladivostok.

The council is due to meet later this month to address the crisis in Syria.

World powers agreed in Geneva on June 30 that a transitional government should be set up in Syria in order to end the escalating conflict there.

Activists say some than 20,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year.

Russia has said the Geneva plan did not imply that Assad should step down, but U.S. State Secretary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would not be included in the new body.

Russia - along with China - has blocked three efforts at the Security Council to ramp up the pressure on the Assad regime and has been accused by the West of defending the Syrian strongman.

But speaking at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Vladivostok, Lavrov said Russia and the West had "common goals."

"We want Syria to be a free, democratic, prosperous country led by a government elected by the people."

Lavarov also gave his backing to a proposal by an opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, to hold a conference in Damascus later this month to agree a common negotiating platform for talks with Assad's government.

Sanctions 'Hurt Russian Business'

Lavrov also expressed concerns that U.S. sanctions on Syria and Iran were harming Russian business interests.

"The unilateral American sanctions against Syria and Iran are increasingly becoming extraterritorial in nature and are directly affecting the interests of Russian business, in particular banks."

Washington has imposed travel bans and asset freezes against Assad and other senior figures. It has also barred U.S. companies from doing business with Syria, and introduced sanctions on Syria's state-run oil company, Sytrol.

But Lavrov said Russia did not support "any sanctions" in Syria because "sanctions will not bring about anything."

The United States has also imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program which it fears is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its program is for civilian use.

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