Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Sunday urged Moscow to “advise” its ally Syria to stop its deadly crackdown against dissent.
“Unfortunately, international efforts have failed and we have not seen results to stop the bloodshed and massacres in Syria,” he told a news conference in the Saudi capital.
“Syria’s friends should advise them to stop the killings. We hope that Russia and others will advise them... we want freedom for the Syrian people,” he said, according to AFP.
Prince Saud made the remarks after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to discuss their economies and the conflict in Syria ahead of an expected meeting with their Russian counterpart.
Last month Saudi King Abdullah told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that dialogue on Syria was “futile.”
Russia should have “coordinated with the Arabs... before using the veto” to jointly block a resolution on Syria with China in the U.N. Security Council, the monarch was quoted as saying.
Moscow and Beijing have twice vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent, triggering the frustration of world powers.
Saudi Arabia has taken a strong stance against the escalating bloodshed and along with its five GCC partners last month expelled Syrian envoys and withdrew their own over the “mass slaughter” of civilians.
Prince Saud also defended the right of the Syrian opposition to arm itself.
“Is there something greater than the right to defend oneself and to defend human rights,” he said, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “The regime is not wanted by the people. The regime is insisting on imposing itself by force on the Syrian people,” he added.
“It is the right of the Syrians to arm themselves in order to defend themselves. Weapons used to target homes are used in wars with enemies,” he said.
Last month the Saudi foreign minister said at an international conference on Syria in Tunisia that he backed the idea of arming the Syrian opposition.
King Abdullah had previously called for “critical measures” to be taken on Syria, warning of an impending “humanitarian disaster.”
More than 7,500 people have been killed across Syria since anti-regime protests erupted in March 2011, according to estimates.
The outside world has proved powerless to halt the killing in Syria, where repression of initially peaceful pro-democracy protests sparked an insurrection by army deserters and others.
The Syrian government says it is fighting foreign-backed “terrorists” it blames for killing hundreds of soldiers and police across the country.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Syrian government crackdown was “more shocking than the worst horror movies in Hollywood,” as he offered to assist international aid efforts in his country’s neighboring enemy, according to Reuters.
Senior U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday called for arming Syria’s rebels through the Arab League and suggested the imposition of “no drive” and “no fly” zones against Syrian military forces targeting the opposition.
Russia and China have accused Western and Arab nations of pushing for Libya-style “regime change” in Syria.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will join Arab counterparts at a meeting in Cairo this month to discuss the Syrian crisis, the Arab League said on Sunday, a move that could indicate Moscow is shifting its stance on the issue.