Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged all Syrian opposition groups to unite and to set up a team to negotiate with the Syrian government after a meeting with his Arab counterparts in the Gulf on Wednesday.
Lavrov said that the atrocities committed in Syria were from all sides and that the “outrageous” bloodshed must stop.
He said that there was no need for a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and what have come in the Geneva Declaration was sufficient.
The Geneva Declaration, that was agreed in June 30 when Kofi Annan was still international mediator, called for a transitional administration but did not specify what role, if any, Russia’s ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have.
Meanwhile, Bahrain’s foreign minister requested a U.N. decision to stop atrocities in Syria and that the division in the Security Council has exacerbated the Syrian conflict.
Both the Russian and the Bahrain foreign ministers condemned the escalation in Gaza where an Israeli air strike killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari.
Lavrov arrived in Riyadh for talks with his Arab counterparts in the Gulf on Wednesday to highlight differences on the conflict in Syria.
He said differences between Russia and the Gulf states on Syria shouldn’t influence trade and investment relations between the two.
The Russian official began his visit by meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, an AFP correspondent reported.
The GCC was the first to recognize the new National Coalition formed last Sunday by factions opposed to President Assad.
In contrast, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday criticized countries siding with the Syrian opposition and insisted Moscow was staying neutral in the conflict.
“We don’t support anybody in this conflict, neither President Assad nor the rebels, contrary to what people generally think,” Medvedev said in an interview with Finnish broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat.
“But unfortunately, the point of view of some states is more one-sided. One side (the government) has to leave immediately and the other (the opposition) has to be supplied with weapons. This is wrong in my opinion,” he said.
The GCC has supported the anti-regime revolt in Syria that broke out in March 2011 and has cost tens of thousands of lives.
‘Declaration of war’ meetings
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Muqdad, told AFP on Wednesday that the Syrian opposition meetings in Doha amount to a “declaration of war” against Assad’s regime.
“The Doha meeting was a declaration of war. These people (the opposition) don’t want to solve the issue peacefully through the mechanisms of the UN,” Muqdad said.
“We read the Doha document and they reject any dialogue with the government.”
Opposition factions met in Doha, Qatar for four days until Sunday, when they agreed to set up the National Coalition and bring together rebel forces under a supreme military council, as well as establish a judicial commission for rebel areas.
They plan to form a provisional government once the coalition has been widely recognized internationally.
France on Tuesday became the first Western country to recognize the coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The United States has recognized the coalition, but stopped short of treating it as the only legitimate representative of the Syrians.
The National Coalition’s declaration also included an outright rejection of any negotiation with the regime.
Assad’s regime has long accused rebels of being funded and mobilized by foreign powers.
“We are ready to discuss with the Syrian opposition which is led in Syria and not led or fabricated elsewhere,” said Muqdad. “We want to participate to a national dialogue with everybody who wants to solve the issue peacefully.”
Muqdad’s statements were the first Syrian official reaction to the Doha meeting.