French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Monday called for action to stop the killing of civilians in Syria and demanded that Syrian leaders face international court charges.
Speaking at the U.N. Security Council Juppe also appealed for Russia and China to hear the “world conscience” and agree on a U.N. resolution condemning the Syria violence.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, however, slammed attempts to change Syria and Libya by “misleading” international opinion and “manipulating” the U.N. Security Council.
Without mentioning Western countries, Lavrov told the council that unilateral sanctions, moves to “regime change” and encouraging the Syrian opposition were “risky recipes of geopolitical engineering which can only result in a spread of the conflict.”
Change in the Arab world “must not be achieved by misleading the international community or manipulating the Security Council,” Lavrov said, renewing condemnation of NATO's attacks in Libya last year.
Russia, Syria's closest ally, and China have twice vetoed U.N. council resolutions condemning the Syria violence, saying the European texts were unbalanced and only sought regime change.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, accused Syrian President Assad of cynically launching new military assaults while meeting with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan over the weekend.
“We reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government's military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense,” Clinton told the U.N. Security Council.
“How cynical that, even as Assad was receiving former (U.N) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Syrian Army was conducting a fresh assault on Idlib and continuing its aggression in Hama, Homs, and Rastan,” she said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to act within the “next few days” on U.N.-Arab League proposals to bring peace to the country where pro-democracy protests deteriorated into bloody turmoil.
“The Syrian government has failed to fulfill its responsibility to protect its own people and instead has subjected its citizens in several cities to military assault and disproportionate use of force,” Ban said. “These shameful operations continue.”
A popular uprising against Assad erupted a year ago. The United Nations estimates Syrian security forces have killed well over 7,500 people. Syria said in December that “terrorists” had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police.