US and Russia clash over Syria at UN

 

The United States and Russia clashed over Syria at the U.N. today after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the divided Security Council to speak with one voice and help the Middle Eastern nation "pull back from the brink of a deeper catastrophe."

Washington and Moscow both called for an end to the bloody year long conflict — but on different terms, leaving in doubt prospects of breaking a deadlock in the council over a new resolution. 

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rejected any equivalence between the "premeditated murders" carried by President Bashar Assad's "military machine" and the civilians under siege driven to self-defense. 

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian authorities "bear a huge share of responsibility" but insisted opposition fighters and extremists including al-Q'aida are also committing violent and terrorist acts. 

Lavrov said if the priority is to immediately end any violence and provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people "then at this stage we should not talk about who was the first to start, but rather discuss realistic and feasible approaches which would allow (us) to achieve the cease-fire as a priority." 

Clinton declared that the Security Council cannot "stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process." 

The ministerial debate in the council on challenges from last year's Arab Spring was dominated by the yearlong conflict in Syria, which has killed over 7,500 people, according to the United Nations. 

Secretary-General Ban, who led off the debate, said the conflict has led the entire region into uncertainty and subjected citizens in several cities to disproportionate violence. 

Russia, which is Syria's most powerful ally, and China have vetoed two US and European-backed Security Council resolutions which would have condemned Assad's bloody crackdown, saying they were unbalanced and demanded that only the government stop attacks, not the opposition. Moscow accused Western powers of fueling the conflict by backing the rebels. 

Earlier this month, the United States proposed a new draft which tried to take a more balanced approach, but diplomats said Russia and China rejected it, saying it was still unbalanced. 

Lavrov flew to New York from Cairo, where he had a tense meeting with Arab League foreign ministers. They have endorsed a plan for Assad to hand power to his vice president, but the Russians are adamantly opposed to any resolution endorsing regime change. 

In the end, the Arab League and Lavrov agreed on a five-point plan that the Russia foreign minister said could lead to an early solution of the Syrian crisis: an immediate cease-fire, a clause preventing foreign intervention, assurances about humanitarian aid, an impartial monitoring mechanism and an endorsement of the mission by former UN chief Kofi Annan, the new UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria. 

Annan left Syria yesterday without a deal to end the conflict, while regime forces mounted a new assault on rebel strongholds in the north. 

Lavrov described Annan's mission as launching political dialogue between the government and all opposition groups but never mentioned the previous Arab League plan calling for a political transition. Clinton and her French and British allies said that plan and last month's General Assembly resolution backing the plan are the basis of the Lavrov-Arab League agreement. 

"We believe that now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League," Clinton said. "The international community should say with one voice —without hesitation or caveat — that the killings of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin." 

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters France has two "red lines" for any new resolution — the Assad regime must be blamed for the violence, and if there is a cease-fire its forces must stop fighting first, to be followed immediately by other groups. Russia has previously demanded a halt to all fighting at the same time.

AP

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam