U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she “made the international community’s case” in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to put more pressure on the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
An accord negotiated in Geneva to call for a transitional coalition government won’t work “if it doesn’t have teeth,” Clinton said yesterday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Vladivostok, after meeting Lavrov the day before. Lavrov told her Russia sees the Geneva plan as the best chance for peace that’s not imposed by outside powers.
“As for the actions to achieve these goals, the U.S. tends to threaten, to increase pressure via more and more sanctions,” Lavrov told reporters. “We disagree with this in principle, because to solve the problems,” all parties need to be involved, not isolated, he said.
Russia and China have blocked three efforts at the Security Council by the U.S., the U.K. and France to increase pressure on the Syrian government. Clinton has publicly criticized Russia for blocking efforts to impose sanctions or other penalties on the regime of Assad, whose military forces cracked down last year on an opposition movement that became an armed resistance.
Syria is host to Russia’s only naval base in the region, and Russia has sold billions of dollars of weapons that have been used in the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin urged outside powers on Sept. 6 to stop sending weapons to rebels in Syria to help end more than 18 months of fighting. Russia has repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of arming Assad’s opponents.