Russia criticizes U.S. recognition of Syrian opposition

MOSCOW Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:31am EST

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia lashed out at the United States on Wednesday for recognizing an opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, saying it ran against agreements to seek political transition in the Middle Eastern nation.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was surprised by the move and that it appeared the United States was betting on "armed victory" of the opposition over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

"This contradicts the agreements set in the Geneva communique that proposes the start of all-Syrian dialogue between the representatives named by the government on the one side and the opposition on the other," Lavrov said.

Brahimi is seeking a solution based on the June 30 Geneva Declaration, which called for a transitional government to defuse a 20-month-old uprising against Assad.

"During consultations that took place three days ago in Geneva, we thought the Americans understood the necessity of creating conditions for all-Syrian dialogue to include government members too," Lavrov said.

"So for us it is quite an unexpected turn and we will seek to clarify what exactly they (the United States) have in mind."

Speaking days after meetings between officials from veto-wielding permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia, the United States and international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Lavrov suggested it would undermine diplomatic efforts to end the conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; editing by Steve Gutterman)

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