China, Russia slam West on Syria; EU ups sanction
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 00:42
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

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