Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Russia and Iran Accuse the United States of Arming Syrian Rebels

Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters that it was the United States and its allies — not Russia and Iran — that are seeking to destabilize Syria.
“The U.S. is sending weapons to the opposition in Syria, which are being used against the government of that country,” Mr. Lavrov said.
Mr. Salehi said that besides weapons, foreign troops had been sent into Syria to aid the armed opposition to Mr. Assad. “They have some of their forces operating inside Syria,” Mr. Salehi said, without specifically naming the United States or any other country. “They say they want to prevent massacres but at the same time send weapons — these are double standards.”
The Russian foreign minister reiterated Russia’s longstanding denial of American accusations that his country is sending helicopter gunships to Syria, which will help government troops to fight the opposition. Mr. Lavrov said that Russia is “honoring military contracts” with the Syrian government, but only sending “antiaircraft weapons.”
“We are not like the U.S., giving weapons to the opposition,” he said. He also said the United States and its allies were determined to follow the “Libyan model,” in which NATO countries armed the opposition, provided them with information and bombed government targets from the air.
“Syria as a country is an axis of stability,” Mr. Lavrov said. “We do not support the government; we are supporting the people and the country.”
The Russian and Iranian foreign ministers also expressed optimism over the June 18 nuclear talks in Moscow between Iran and world powers aimed at resolving Iran’s disputed nuclear program. “We believe the Iranian side is interested in the talks and seeking a solution for the dispute,” Mr. Lavrov said. Mr. Salehi said he was confident nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers were heading in the right direction.
“Of course this is a complicated story,” he said of the nearly ten year long tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. “It takes patience and tolerance, but overall we are optimistic.”


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