Moscow and Beijing will be punished for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harshly stated at the “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris on Friday.
“I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.
Russia and China once again opted not to attend the “Friends of Syria” meeting. Neither Moscow nor Beijing believe the meeting in the French capital will be helpful in uniting the Syrian opposition “on a constructive basis”.
“We have frankly laid out the reasons why we have restrained from joining the mechanism, the very name of which has a contradiction between the word and the deed,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.
The US Secretary of State further criticized Russia for the maintenance of Syria’s Soviet-made helicopters. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton lashed out at Russia for repairing three Syrian helicopters, saying their presence “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly refuted the allegations.
“In 2008 there was a contract to repair them. They are still to be assembled after delivery”, Lavrov said. ”That entire process will take at least three months. So to speak about something we have just sold to Syria, which is then to be used in action, is not true at all,” he added.
French President Francois Hollande demanded Bashar Assad step while delivering an opening statement at the Friends of Syria meeting on Friday. Hollande believes a transition of political power is the only way to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.
The Friends of Syria meeting comes just a week after a UN-led summit in Geneva where the international community endeavored to reach a consensus on the conflict. They agreed to get behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a transition government in Syria.
However, Russia said that western powers were purposely distorting the terms of the agreement to push for the removal of Assad.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the agreement said Assad must leave office, whereas Moscow claims that the original accord made no allusion to the removal of the Syrian president.
FONTE RUSSIA TODAY