Russian Foreign Minister Meets Top Syrian Defector In Jordan
November 06, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held a rare meeting with a high-level Syrian opposition figure.
Lavrov met with former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab in Amman on November 6.
Hijab defected to Jordan in August.
After the meeting, Lavrov accused the opposition of prolonging the bloodshed by demanding that President Bashar al-Assad step down before talks on ending the conflict in Syria, which began during Arab Spring-style uprisings in early 2011.
Lavrov also said rebels fighting against Assad's regime have obtained 50 shoulder-launched Stinger missiles.
He did not say how they obtained the U.S.-made weapons.
Hijab said that Assad's removal was "the only way out."
Syria's state-run news agency, meanwhile, reported that "terrorists" killed Muhammad al-Laham, the brother of Syrian parliament speaker Jihad al-Laham, in Damascus on November 6.
Russia and China have resisted Western-led efforts to punish the regime in Damascus for its role in the bloodshed, which some activists say has taken at least 35,000 lives.
The United Nations puts the death toll above 20,000.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would agree to granting Assad safe passage out of Syria to end the bloodshed in the country.
He also reportedly said that he was "certainly not offering [Assad] an exit plan to Britain" and that he would "favor [Assad] facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and ITAR-TASS
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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