Hillary meets Lavrov; discusses options to end conflict in Syria



Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Special UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Dublin and discussed options to end the 21-month old Syrian conflict.

The 40-minute Hillary -Lavrov meeting was a "constructive discussion" and "focused" on how to support a political transition in practical terms, a senior State Department official said.

Hillary also had a short follow-on meeting with Brahimi after she met Lavrov. The US and Russia committed to support Brahimi's efforts in that regard, the official said.

The next step will be a meeting in the next few days between Brahimi and senior officials from the United States and Russia to discuss the specifics of taking this work forward, the US official said.

Meanwhile, the United States reiterated its warning to the Assad regime against use of chemical weapons.

"The whole world is watching. The whole world's watching very closely, and the President of the United States has made very clear that there will be consequences, there will be consequences if the Assad regime makes a terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people," US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters in Virginia.

The White House said there is unanimity among US, Russia and China against use of chemical weapons.

"I think you see a uniform agreement, there have been differences on Syria but I think the position of the US and our allies, of Russia, of China is uniform when it comes to chemical weapons. Without getting into hypotheticals there will be significant consequences for anybody who were to use those weapons," Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication for the US President, said in a round table with the White House Foreign Press Group.

"We have been aiming to promote and support that type of broad based opposition and we believe that the new Syrian Opposition Council makes significant progress towards that goal," he said.

"Our view is different countries are going to make different decisions about the type of support that they provide to the opposition. Our support has been on the political side, the humanitarian side and non-lethal provision of assistance. But the broad framework of the Friends of Syria allows for a discussion about, again, the different types of support that flow to the opposition," he noted.

PTI