Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at a meeting to discuss strategic dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Russia in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: The GCC countries and the Russian Federation yesterday supported a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, modelled after the UN Security Council resolution on Yemen.

But the two sides did not call on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to step down.

"The Russian position has been embodied in the Security Council resolution on Yemen adopted a few days ago unanimously. This resolution was based on the GCC initiative which provides for the need of the government and the opposition to sit down and agree upon a deal which would resolve the current crisis. It's a fair deal, it's a fair initiative, an initiative which is being implemented these days," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after the first GCC-Russia Strategic Dialogue meeting held in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Helping hand

Chairing the GCC side, UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: "The Syrian situation requires Arabs to support the Syrian government and opposition to get out of this crisis. I do not think Arabs want to make it an international issue. We want to help the Syrian brothers under the Arab umbrella."

GCC foreign ministers and GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al Zayani participated in the meeting, which discussed the mechanisms for strategic dialogue between the two sides, reviewed regional and international issues of common interest, and GCC-Russian relations.

The meeting also discussed a joint work plan between the GCC and Russia in the framework of a strategic dialogue in order to strengthen mutual cooperation in all areas, especially in economy, trade, investment, education, scientific research, environment and health.

Lavrov stressed the two sides were convinced that "[the Syrian situation] requires the same approach [as Yemen], an approach that provides for the need of the government and the opposition to deal with each other, the same approach must apply to the situation in Syria.

Peaceful resolution

"Our position again is reflected in the Russian-Chinese draft resolution which is available at the Security Council and which provides for a peaceful resolution of the crisis without any outside interference, based on the Syrian-led inclusive dialogue in which all responsible Syrian groups must participate," Lavrov said.

He added the Arab League meeting in Doha adopted an initiative which we hope the Syrian government would endorse, which exactly aims at promoting the dialogue between the government and the Syrian opposition to make sure that the Syrians themselves decide their own future through national dialogue, national reconciliation, peacefully without resorting to violence.

Model for the future

"We're supporting international law and certainly we have many questions regarding the use of international law after the Security Council adopted the Libyan resolution and the Libyan drama which took away tens of thousands of lives under the slogan of protecting civilians.

Lavrov said the Yemen resolution is a model for the future, not the Libyan resolution, not the manner in which this resolution was grossly abused. The huge damage to the UN Security Council which I assure you will not happen again, I can assure you."

On the Palestinian Unesco membership, Lavrov said there was no doubt that the membership of Palestine in the Unesco or any other specialised agency of the United Nations or in the United Nations itself is not considered by the Palestinian National Authority as an alternative to negotiations.