Russia decries U.N. draft on Syria aid, urges resolution on 'terrorism'

MOSCOW Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:18am EST

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens during a meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba in Moscow February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens during a meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba in Moscow February 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday a draft U.N. resolution on aid access in Syria was "detached from reality" and urged the West to refrain from what it called one-sided accusations against Damascus.

Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan last week presented their draft resolution meant to increase aid to Syria to the five Security Council permanent members, including Russia. Moscow swiftly rebuked the proposal as a non-starter.

"Our Western partners in the Security Council ... proposed that we cooperate in working out a resolution. The ideas they shared with us were absolutely one-sided and detached from reality," the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying after talks with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, said Syria's government had broken its obligations under international law, which requires states to ensure minimum food supplies, essential medicine and safe water.

"Almost none of these obligations have been met in Old Homs, and various other besieged areas in recent months," Colville said.

Asked if U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay thought it was time for a U.N. Security Council resolution to force the Syrian government to meet its obligations, he said: "We certainly wouldn't object to actions by the Security Council."

Lavrov said Russia, which has used its veto power in the Security Council to block three Western-backed resolutions aimed to increase pressure on Syria's government during the three-year-old conflict, would be ready to consider a draft only if it was "not about one-sided accusations aimed at the regime".

He also called upon the Security Council to agree a resolution condemning "terrorist activity" in Syria.

President Bashar al-Assad's government describes all of those fighting to oust him as terrorists and has pushed for efforts to combat "terrorism" to be the main focus of peace talks in Geneva.

Russia, a long-standing arms supplier to Damascus, has been Assad's main international protector throughout the civil war. Moscow rejects Western accusations that it is shielding the Syrian president and says the Syrian people, not foreign powers, should decide the future of Assad.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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