Moscow slams US recognition of Syrian opposition
The recognition by the US of Syria's opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people shows that Washington is gambling on a military victory by the coalition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
"I was somewhat surprised to learn that the US, through its president, has recognised the national coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he said.
"That is at odds with the agreements recorded in the Geneva communique calling for an all-Syria dialogue between the country's government representatives on the one hand and the opposition on the other," Lavrov said.
Syria's opposition coalition has declared its refusal to negotiate with the government and defined its chief goal as regime change, Lavrov recalled.
Moscow will seek clarification of the US position on Syria, he added.
"In the course of consultations (three days ago in Geneva), we had the impression that the Americans understand the need for an all-Syrian dialogue with the government's participation," Lavrov said.
US President Barack Obama said Tuesday the US has decided formally to recognise the Syrian opposition rebel coalition that is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said in an interview with the ABC TV network.
He described the move as a "big step".
In a summary of the interview posted on its website, ABC news said the move did not include a decision to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels but opened the door to that possibility in the future.
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was formed Nov 11 in Doha, Qatar, and proclaimed itself the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Its legitimacy has since been recognized by France, Britain and several other countries.
"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama said.
"To make sure that they organise themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, (and) that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."