Russia blast Friends of Syria meeting
MOSCOW - Russia said on Friday that decisions made at a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome this week, which saw the United States pledge direct aid to Syrian rebels, encouraged "extremists" who want to seize power by force.
"The decisions made in Rome as well as the statements, both in letter and spirit, give direct encouragement to extremists to take power by force, despite the unavoidable suffering of ordinary Syrians," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
At the meeting with European and Arab partners and the opposition National Coalition on Thursday, the United States announced that it would for the first time provide direct aid to Syrian rebels in the form of food and medical assistance as well as $60 million in extra assistance to the political opposition.
Russia denies that it has a policy of propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but has not backed calls for him to stand down.
"In our opinion, the urgent task today is an immediate cessation of bloodshed and any violence and a shift to political dialogue which is foreseen by the Geneva Communique," the statement said, referring to a transition plan agreed by world powers in June 2012.
"We are convinced that this is exactly what will allow to realise the goals that are most important for Syrians -- to secure a peaceful and democratic development of a single Syria in the interests of all its nationals, without any exception."