Russia rules out mass evacuation from Syria
Moscow, January 23, 2013
Russia is not planning a mass evacuation of its citizens from Syria because the situation there does not require it, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday after Russia brought 77 people fleeing the violence back to their homeland via Lebanon.
"We have plans (in place), as we have plans for any country, in case of an escalation of the internal situation ... But there is no talk of implementing them. For now the assessment of our embassy and respective departments here ... does not require the implementation of the existing plans," Lavrov said.
He said there could be no peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria as long as opponents of President Bashar Al-Assad demand his exit from power and refuse to negotiate with his government.
Lavrov's comments at an annual news conference signalled no shift in the position of Russia, which says Assad's exit must not be a precondition for a deal to end 22 months of violence in which more than 60,000 people have been killed.
"Everything runs up against the opposition members' obsession with the idea of the overthrow of the Assad regime. As long as this irreconcilable position remains in force, nothing good will happen, armed action will continue, people will die," Lavrov said.
Russia has been Assad's most powerful foreign protector during the violence that started with a crackdown on protests but has escalated into civil war, vetoing three UN Security Council resolution aimed to push him out or pressure him to end bloodshed.
Russia flew 77 of its citizens fleeing the Syrian violence to Moscow via Lebanon on Wednesday but Lavrov said the situation in Syria did not require a mass evacuation of Russian citizens.
Speaking of large-scale naval exercises Russia is holding in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Syria, Lavrov said the naval presence was a positive factor.
"Of course we have no interest in the Mediterranean region becoming even more destabilised. And the presence of our fleet there is undoubtedly a stabilising factor," Lavrov said. - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects
- Sony to sell Tokyo 'birthplace'
- Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves
- Crimea parliament votes to join Russia
- Arab League to be revamped
- 'Upskirting' is legal: Massachusetts court
- Singapore probes 'unnatural' death of bitcoin trader
- Onus on world powers for Syria war crimes: UN
- US, Russia set for talks on Ukraine crisis
- Brent oil drops below $109
- Services outshine manufacturing, pushing up jobs
- Bitcoin bank shut down after hacker attack
- India to kick off world's biggest poll on April 7
- China signals focus on reforms
- Hundreds ready for bitcoin exchange class action
- Space taxi, Jupiter mission in Obama budget
- Putin: Use of force last resort in Ukraine
- Powers to boost Lebanese military, economy
- Egypt bans Hamas activities in Egypt