Russia criticizes U.S. for encouraging Syrian opposition to topple Assad regime

The U.S. proposal on setting up an opposition Syrian government in exile encourages the opposition to continue its efforts to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"The U.S. has declared that it will be continuing its efforts to put pressure on the Syrian government, including through toughening its sanctions. Direct instructions have been given to the Syrian opposition as to what it should do to form a government in exile and who should join such a government, including particular candidates," Lukashevich said in a statement published on the ministry website on Friday.

"This in fact encourages the opposition to continue its uncompromising line toward overthrowing the regime in Damascus," he said.

Lukashevich also mentioned remarks by U.S. officials to the effect that they are not going to wait for Russia and China to change their positions. "That is, they make it understood without beating around the bush that Washington sees the settlement of the Syria crisis exclusively on its terms," he said.

Such statements are sure "to evoke perplexity and concerns," he added.

This position also goes against the agreements that were reached at a meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva on June 30, he said.

"Let me remind you that the Geneva communique envisions encouraging all parties to stop any violence as soon as possible and appoint negotiators representing the government and the opposition to launch this very necessary political process aimed at accomplishing real democratic reforms in Syria the way all Syrians desire," he said.

"Moscow is seriously worried to hear that, instead of coordinated actions in line with the Geneva communique, including toward helping form a transition executive body in the Syrian Arab Republic through negotiations between the government and the opposition, calls have been made to seek to undermine Geneva's spirit and letter," he said.

Russia, which is continuing to work actively both with Damascus and with all opposition groups without exception toward implementing the provisions of the Geneva communique into practice, is urging all external players to come their part of the way and persuade the Syrian opposition to consolidate on the platform of preparedness for dialogue with the government, he said.

"We would like once again to reaffirm our principled line toward promoting a peaceful settlement in Syria within the framework of a political process conducted by the Syrians themselves, which should be aimed, among other things, at coordinating guarantees of security and a worthy place in society for all ethno-religious groups in the country," he said.

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