Russia denies talks on post-Assad Syria

2012-06-15 15:43

Moscow - Russia is not discussing plans for a Syrian political transformation that would follow the exit of President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, emphasising Moscow's vocal opposition to external interference.

Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto power, have blocked efforts by Western powers to condemn Assad and call for his removal during 15 months of bloodshed they blame on his government.

Western nations want Russia to abandon support for Assad and have held intensive diplomatic discussions with Moscow in recent weeks, as persistent violence has undermined hopes that envoy Kofi Annan's UN-backed peace plan can end the violence.

At a news conference after talks with his Iraq counterpart, Lavrov said he had seen media reports indicating that Russia and the United States were discussing "a political transformation in Syria after the exit of Bashar al-Assad".

"If that was really said, it's not true," Lavrov said. "Such discussions are not being held and cannot be held, because to decide for the Syrian people contradicts our position completely," he said.

"We do not get involved in overthrowing regimes - neither through approval of unilateral actions by the UN Security Council nor by participation in any political plots," Lavrov said.

Lavrov said any broad international talks on Syria must include Iran and must only address ways to create conditions for a political dialogue in Syria - not the content of that dialogue or any preconditions such as Assad's exit.