Russia Denies Discussing Syria’s Post-Assad Future With US
Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that Moscow isn’t discussing Syria’s future without President Bashar Assad as Washington has claimed, in the latest volley in a contentious back-and-forth on how to end the bloody conflict.
Sergey Lavrov denied Thursday’s statement by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that Moscow and Washington “are continuing to talk about a post-Assad transition strategy.”
Lavrov, who met with the State Department’s No. 2 official William Burns in Kabul on Thursday, maintained that Russia believes it’s up to the Syrians to determine their country’s future and said foreign players shouldn’t meddle.
“It’s not true that we are discussing Syria’s fate after Bashar Assad,” Lavrov said following talks in Moscow with his Iraqi counterpart. “We aren’t dealing with a regime change either through approving unilateral actions at the United Nations Security Council nor through taking part in some political conspiracies.”
In Washington, a senior White House foreign policy aide had tough words for Russia, especially on the question of whether Assad could remain in power.
“President Putin clearly is somebody who can articulate where he has differences with the United States. But we can also articulate where we have differences with Russia,” deputy U.S. national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.