Russia gets blunt with Annan over Syria
Moscow - Russia on Saturday said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made clear to the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan that Moscow opposed "crude interference" from outside in Syrian internal affairs.
"A particular emphasis was placed on the inadmissibility of trampling on international legal norms, including through crude interference in Syria's internal affairs," the foreign ministry said after a meeting earlier between Lavrov and Annan in Cairo.
The meeting appeared to have taken place in Cairo before Annan headed to Syria for a meeting with President Bashar Assad in Damascus and as Lavrov prepared to meet Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital.
The foreign ministry statement said that in the meeting Lavrov confirmed Russian support of Annan's mission and expressed hope "it would be successfully realised in line with the mandate he has been given".
Russia under pressure
It said that Lavrov explained Russia's position on the crisis to Annan, saying it was based on seeking an "immediate end to violence in that country and a long term solution to a civil conflict through a wide national dialogue".
The ministry said Annan had said he was ready for "active co-operation" with Russia in solving the Syrian crisis.
Russia and its diplomatic ally China infuriated the West by vetoing in February a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime for the bloodshed in Syria and has shown little sign of shifting its policy since.
But Moscow is now coming under huge pressure from the West and Arab states led by Saudi Arabia to start exerting pressure on Assad's regime and support sanctions over the bloody crackdown.
In the latest sign of Russia's defiance, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Moscow opposed an "unbalanced" new Washington-backed UN draft resolution because it failed to call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels.