EU, Russia Disagree on Syria Situation

World | November 17, 2011, Thursday // 19:13| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: EU, Russia Disagree on Syria Situation EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) enters the hall with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, 17 November 2011. EPA/BGNES

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov came out with conflicting messages on violence in Syria after meeting in Moscow Thursday.

"It's time for President Bashar Al-Assad to stand down," said the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, saying that the Union will keep up pressure on the Syrian government.

At the same time, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov opposed international calls for Assad to step down, nevertheless calling for democratization and the stopping of violence.

Lavrov went on to argue that Syria could be on the brink of "civil war", given that peaceful protesters are joined by what he believes to be militant groups.

"It is no secret that together with the peaceful demonstrations that we understand and support, armed groups are becoming ever more prominent in the events," said the Russian foreign minister.

"These groups have goals that have nothing to do with the democratization of Syria," added Lavrov.

Last Saturday the Arab League suspended the membership of Syria and vowed to impose sanctions on the country, in a move immediately backed by the European Union.

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Tags: Sergey Lavrov, EU, European Union, Catherine Ashton, violence, Syria, democratization, Bashar Al-Assad, sanctions, Arab League
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