Lavrov denies plans to grant al-Assad asylum in Russia
Russia has no plans to provide a safe haven in exile for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday, RIA Novosti reported.
"We are not even thinking about it," he told journalists.
"Those who are trying to plant this idea into the minds of the international community, pursue their dirty goals," he said. "It's just provocations by those who want to put the entire blame for what is going on in Syria on Russia and China, allegedly because we have been blocking something."
"We are blocking... only an attempt to support one side in an internal conflict by a UN Security Council decision," the Russian foreign minister added.
Lavrov also said that another Syrian settlement meeting with Russia's participation will be held soon.
"We are meeting with all [parties to the Syrian conflict], we have some contacts scheduled in future both in Russia and abroad," he said.
Up to 17,000 people have been killed in clashes between Assad troops and opposition fighters since the beginning of the Syrian conflict 17 months ago, according to UN estimates based on accounts provided by Syrian activists.
The European Union approved a new set of sanctions against Syria on Monday, including a tougher arms embargo, in response to the escalating violence in the country.