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Russia rebukes Washington after Obama comments on Syria

Source: Reuters - Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:04 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MOSCOW, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused the United States of deliberately distorting its position on Syria after President Barack Obama criticised Moscow for objecting to a draft U.N. resolution on aid to Syria.

Moscow has said it would veto the Western-Arab draft resolution on aid access to Syria in its current form, saying it was "detached from reality" and that it could only consider a text free of "one-sided accusations" against Damascus.

Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, Obama told reporters his administration has told "the Russians that they cannot say they are concerned about the wellbeing of the Syrian people when there are starving civilians".

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich dismissed these remarks as "peremptory" and unfair and said Moscow was equally concerned with the grave humanitarian crisis in Syria as Washington was.

Lukashevich praised the deal on a ceasefire allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid and evacuation of civilians from the Syrian city of Homs and highlighted the role Russian diplomats had played in agreeing it.

He reiterated that delays in destroying Syria's chemical arms were due to technical issues and security risks for toxin transports in a war zone, rather than a result of stalling by Damascus, as suggested by Washington.

Lukashevich said Washington had all the information it needed to understand that and build a realistic view of what was happening on the ground in Syria, both in the humanitarian sphere and with the disarmament process.

"In this regard a question arises - why is the Russian position on Syria being intentionally distorted in such a biased way?" he said.

Russia is a long-time arms supplier to Assad and the most prominent international backer of Damascus in a three-year-old conflict that has claimed more than 130,000 lives.

Washington and the West accuse Russia of shielding Assad. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Andrew Roche)

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