Last Updated: Thu Mar 01, 2012 23:21 pm (KSA) 20:21 pm (GMT)

Meeting between Gulf foreign ministers and Russia over Syrian crisis postponed

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was supposed to meet with the Gulf foreign minister in the Saudi capital next week. (File photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was supposed to meet with the Gulf foreign minister in the Saudi capital next week. (File photo)

The meeting that was scheduled between the Gulf foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the Saudi capital next week has been postponed, Al Arabiya correspondent said.

Kuwait’s foreign minister said earlier Thursday that the Riyadh meeting next week is scheduled to discuss developments in Syria.

“A meeting will be held with the Russian foreign minister and the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council on March 7 in Riyadh,” Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah told Kuwaiti MPs.

Sabah said the ministers from the six-nation bloc will “express their disappointment with the Russian stance,” on the crisis in Syria.
Moscow along with Beijing has twice wielded its Security Council veto to block U.N. action on the crisis in Syria, first in October last year and again in February.

Sabah spoke at an emergency session of the newly elected Kuwaiti parliament called to discuss the escalating crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on anti-government protesters demanding his ouster.

He said that Gulf nations will “call on Syria to take a position that will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.”

The announcement came just three days after Qatar’s prime minister said he was in favor of delivering arms to the Syrian opposition that is battling Assad’s regime.

“We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said during his visit to Norway.

“This uprising in Syria now (has lasted) one year. For 10 months, it was peaceful: nobody was carrying weapons, nobody was doing anything. And Assad continued killing them,” Sheikh Hamad told a news conference.

Saudi accuses complacent countries

Also this week, Saudi Arabia accused some countries of being complacent on Syria and blocking a solution to the deadly violence.

“The kingdom holds all parties that delay international action (on Syria) morally responsible for developments there, especially if they continue to be complacent and ignore the interests of the Syrian people,” a government statement said.

Last month, King Abdullah scolded Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for vetoing the latest Security Council resolution on Syria.

In a telephone call with the Russian leader on February 22, the king said Russia should have “coordinated with the Arabs... before the veto... but now, dialogue about what is happening (in Syria) is futile.”

Saudi Arabia has taken a strong stance against Assad’s regime and, like the other five GCC member states, expelled the Syrian ambassador last month and recalled its own ambassador from Damascus to protest the “mass slaughter” of civilians.

The king has previously called for “critical measures” to be taken on Syria, warning of an impending “humanitarian disaster.”

As well as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the GCC includes Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that well over 7,500 people have been killed in the Syrian regime’s crackdown on nationwide protests since March last year.

Annan says killing must stop

Meanwhile, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said on Wednesday he hopes to meet with President Bashar Assad and will “plead” with him to engage with the international effort to help find a peaceful solution to the nearly year-old conflict.

Annan told reporters after meeting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that others have different ideas of how to end the conflict - an apparent reference to a military solution - but that a “peaceful solution through dialogue and a speedy one” was the way to go.

“The message is clear - that the killing and violence must stop,” Annan said. “Humanitarian agencies must be given access to do their work ... (and) “there’s a need for dialogue between all actors in Syria.”

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