Damascus: Russia and China hit back on Monday
after US State Secretary Hillary Clinton criticised their
stance on Syria and as the European Union agreed new sanctions
against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The exchange came after Clinton warned of "every
possibility" of civil war in the unrest-hit nation where more
than 150 people were killed in violence over the weekend as
Syrians voted in a referendum on a new constitution.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday agreed to freeze
assets of the central bank, impose a travel ban on seven
Syrians close to Assad, ban cargo flights into the 27-nation
bloc and restrict trade in gold and precious metals.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he wanted Syria
dragged before an international court of justice, while Qatari
Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said he
favoured delivering arms to the Syrian opposition.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin slammed the West's
"cynical" stance on Syria, staunchly defending Moscow's joint
veto with China of two UN Security Council draft resolutions
condemning Damascus for its deadly crackdown.
The Russian strongman accused the West of "lacking the
patience to work out an adjusted and balanced" resolution that
also required opposition forces to cease fire and withdraw
from flashpoints such as the besieged central city of Homs.
"All that remained was to demand that the armed
opposition do the same as the government -- namely, withdraw
their fighting units and detachments from the cities," Putin
wrote in the Moskovskiye Novosti daily.
"A refusal to do so was cynical."
Beijing also attacked Clinton's criticism of its backing
for Assad, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei saying
China "cannot accept that at all," again criticising the
international community for trying to "impose a so-called
solution" on the Syrian people.
"China has been calling on the Syrian government and all
parties in Syria to immediately and fully stop all acts of
violence and launch a political dialogue process with no
preconditions attached," Hong told a briefing.
Clinton said on Friday the international community must
work to change the positions of Moscow and Beijing, which have
faced intense criticism for vetoing the two UN resolutions.
First Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 00:42