Tags: Russia | Syria | al-Assad

Russia: No Home Here for Assad

Saturday, 22 Dec 2012 09:33 AM

 

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MOSCOW — Russia's foreign minister says Moscow would welcome any country's offer of a safe haven to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but underlined that Moscow itself has no intention of giving him shelter if he steps down.

Russia has used its veto right at the U.N. Security Council to protect its ally from international sanctions, but it has increasingly sought to distance itself from Assad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters late Friday that countries in the region he wouldn't name publicly had asked Russia to convey their offer of a safe passage to Assad. He said that Russia responded by telling them to go directly to Assad.

"If there is anyone willing to provide him guarantees, they are welcome," Lavrov told reporters on board a plane returning from Brussels where he attended a Russia-EU summit. "We would be the first to cross ourselves and say: "Thank God, the carnage is over! If it indeed ends the carnage, which is far from certain."

He also said the Syrian government has pulled its chemical weapons together to one or two locations from several arsenals across the country to keep them safe amid the rebel onslaught.

"According to the information we have, as well as the data of the U.S. and European special services, the government is doing everything to secure it," he said. "The Syrian government has concentrated the stockpiles in one or two centers, unlike the past when they were scattered across the country."

U.S. intelligence says the regime may be readying chemical weapons and could be desperate enough to use them. Both Israel and the U.S. have also expressed concerns they could fall into militant hands if the regime crumbles.

Lavrov added that U.N. peace envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would visit Moscow for talks before the year's end.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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