Vladivostok: Russia on Friday soundly rejected US calls for increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish power.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to prod Moscow into supporting UN action to end the crisis in Syria and she expressed hope that Congress would repeal Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after meeting Hillary on the sidelines of a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders, told reporters that Moscow is opposed to US-backed penalties against the Assad government, in addition to new ones against Iran over its nuclear program, because they harm Russian commercial interests.
"Our American partners have a prevailing tendency to threaten and increase pressure, adopt ever more sanctions against Syria and against Iran," Lavrov said. "Russia is fundamentally against this, since for resolving problems you have to engage the countries you are having issues with and not isolate them."
"Unilateral US sanctions against Syria and Iran increasingly take on an extraterritorial character, directly affecting the interests of Russian business, in particular banks," he said. "We clearly stated that this was unacceptable, and they listened to us. What the result will be, I don't know."
Hillary , who also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vladivostok, had urged Moscow to reconsider its opposition to the penalties, particularly against Syria in order to convince Assad that he should agree to a political transition, according to a senior US official.
Hillary told her Russian counterpart that the Security Council needed to do more to send "a strong message" to Assad, given the escalating level of violence in Syria, said the official, who was present during the meeting. Hillary made clear to Lavrov that the Security Council risks "abrogating its responsibility" if it fails to act.
First Published: Sunday, September 09, 2012, 00:18