MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday chided Western and Arab nations that set “ultimatums and artificial deadlines” for ending the bloodshed in Syria and said it was not their place to judge peace envoy Kofi Annan’s ceasefire plan.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks, quoted by Interfax news agency, were aimed at the “Friends of Syria” which said in Istanbul on Sunday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not have an open-ended opportunity to meet his commitments to Annan.
“Kofi Annan has a mandate from the (U.N.) Secretary General and the Security Council. The Security Council will judge who should implement his proposals, and how,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying during a visit to Armenia.
“Ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help the matter,” he was quoted as telling a news conference.
Security Council members China and Russia, as well as Syria’s ally Iran, did not attend the meeting in Istanbul, reflecting the divided international response to Syria’s crisis.
“We are trying to be friends for all Syrians and not only for one part of the Syrian nation,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
He added that Russia did not attend the conference because the representatives of Assad’s government were not invited.
The peace plan includes demands for a ceasefire, the immediate withdrawal of heavy armor from residential areas and access for humanitarian aid.
Annan was due to brief the Security Council later on Monday on his efforts to calm the conflict in which the U.N. estimates Syrian security forces have killed more than 9,000 people and rebels have killed 3,000 troops and police.
Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, Editing by Timothy Heritage