Russia criticises Clinton over Syria statement

Moscow, Jan 31 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Russian foreign ministry Thursday criticised outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a statement which referred to Russia's "unwillingness" to assist in settlement of the Syria conflict.

The ministry said it was symptomatic of America's obstructive attitude to resolving the crisis.

"Unfortunately, we have repeatedly said that in their public statements, American representatives often show a very biased, and sometimes completely wrong interpretation of Russia's position on Syria," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"The same refers to the US secretary of state's statement, which it is hard to assess as other than an attempt to turn everything upside down," Lukashevich said.

In a recent interview with the NPR media organisation, Clinton said regarding Syria: "Certainly from my perspective, the Russians were unwilling to go forward."

"We had made it our position that we would not open the door to military action, but we wanted to take political action, economic action through the Security Council," she said.

Russia has faced strong international criticism over its refusal to back UN sanctions against Syria over what it called the pro-rebel bias of some resolutions proposed by western nations.

Moscow denies it is backing President Bashar al-Assad and says it is concerned the Syrian president's enforced departure would only worsen the conflict.

Lukashevich expressed regret that Russia's proposals on the Syrian settlement, aimed at promoting the start of a political process to establish a transitional government, have "faced stiff opposition from Moscow's Western partners, primarily the US".

"The question arises: who was actually throwing a wrench in the works of the Geneva (settlement) scheme?" Lukashevich said. "The answer is evident."

At a meeting on Syria in Geneva in June last year, foreign ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and from countries neighbouring Syria proposed establishing a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces, but incessant fighting in Syria has made it impossible to launch a dialogue.

At least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict since March 2011.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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