Thursday Apr 19, 201202:41 PM GMT
Russia boycotts 'biased' anti-Assad talks in Paris
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (L) chats with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the opening session of the "Friends of f Syria” conference in Istanbul on April 1, 2012.
Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:1PM
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Russia says it has boycotted a ministerial meeting of anti-Syrian countries in Paris because of its bias, arguing that the meeting will damage chances for peace.

"It seems that this meeting is not aimed at finding the grounds for dialogue within Syria, but quite the opposite," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The so-called ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting is aimed "at deepening the contradictions between the opposition and Damascus by promoting the international isolation of the latter," it added.

France was hosting foreign ministers from 12 Western and Arab countries on Thursday in a bid to mount pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also planned to attend the talks.

The meeting comes as a cease-fire brokered by Special UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has restored calm in most parts of the country.

But Moscow pointed out that the meeting differed little from the two previous 'Friends of Syria' conferences that Moscow also skipped since they insisted on Assad's ouster.

On Wednesday, Clinton said Washington will continue to send aid to anti-government armed gangs Syria, and "will continue to do everything we can to assist the opposition to be perceived as -- and in reality become -- the alternative voice for the Syrian people’s future."

The Syrian Foreign Ministry, however, said it would remain adamant to the UN-backed peace plan, accusing armed rebels of attempting "to ruin Annan’s plan", holding Syria responsible for breaking the ceasefire and paving the way for foreign military intervention in the country.

Damascus has also said it is cooperating with UN observers who are overseeing the implementation of the peace plan.

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