Lavrov, Kerry to discuss Syria peace

Lavrov, Kerry to discuss Syria peace
Mon Apr 22, 2013 22:05:42

Russia warned the European Union on Monday not to lift an arms embargo that has prevented weapons supplies to Syrian militants, despite British and French lobbying.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that EU foreign ministers, who last month rejected a Franco-British proposal to ease the ban, would in coming weeks discuss the question again. 

Russia, which says it is continuing to implement weapons contracts with Syria but is no longer delivering arms that could be used in the civil conflict, has vehemently opposed any supplies of weapons to Syrian insurgents.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said an embargo was unnecessary in the first place because such supplies were prohibited by international law.

If the embargo is removed, "the international obligations of the EU countries, which prohibit supplies of arms and ammunition to non-government actors, are not going anywhere", he said at a news briefing after talks with his Guinean counterpart.

Russia has used its U.N. Security Council veto power to shield Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from Western efforts to push him from power.

Moscow has for months been calling for implementation of a declaration agreed by world powers including Russia and the United States in Geneva last June that called for a transitional government.

Lavrov said he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would discuss ways to promote a peace process in Syria at talks on the sidelines of a NATO gathering and a Russia-NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

"We will discuss what we, Russia and the United States, can do to convince those who ... are resisting the peace process to step onto the path of implementing the Geneva agreements," Lavrov said.

Russian and U.S. diplomats have held several meetings for that purpose since late last year, to little effect.