Hillary Clinton has held talks with Sergei Lavrov in an attempt to break a deadlock over a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Friday’s meeting between the US secretary of state and the Russian foreign minister came as the US considered whether war crimes could be brought against the Syrian goverment of Bashar al-Assad.
It followed another day of mass protests across the country, during which at least 17 people were killed and violence spilled across the border into Lebanon.
Russia and China dislike the idea of any Security Council judgment on Syria and have played little role in
discussions on a draft resolution to condemn Syrian bloodshed against protesters.
The US is not sponsoring the UN resolution against Syria but has made clear it supports the European draft in condemning the Syrian crackdown. The resolution would not impose sanctions.
Clinton’s discussion with Lavrov on Syria focused on the activity in the Security Council “and how the US and Russia can work together to make sure that we can get to a UN Security Council resolution”, Victoria Nuland, a US state department spokeswoman, said.
“She [Clinton] expressed her hope that the US and Russia can work together,” Nuland said.
Clinton, however, has not made a similar call to her counterpart from China, Nuland said.
In a related move, Clinton attempted to ratchet up the pressure on Assad in an op-ed she wrote for Asharq Al-Awsat, an international newspaper based in London.
Citing the violent government crackdown in Syria, Clinton wrote: “It is increasingly clear that President Assad has made his choice. But while continued brutality may allow him to delay the change that is underway in Syria, it will not reverse it.”
Clinton accused Assad of “embracing the repressive tactics of his ally Iran” and wrote that “Syria is
headed toward a new political order” that should be shaped by the Syrian people.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Syria after Friday prayers, calling for Assad to go. Activists said security forces shot dead at least 17 people, including a 16-year-old boy.
Tensions were also reported in neighbouring Lebanon, where about 200 people protested against Assad in the northern city of Tripoli.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, the Lebanese capital, said four people were killed in clashes that broke out amid the Tripoli demonstration.
Elsewhere, more than 9,000 Syrians had streamed north across the border into Turkey by Saturday.
Refugee camps have been set up to house the growing number of Syrians displaced by the violence in their home country.
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border on Friday, said 200 refugees in the Altinozu camp and the same amount in Yayladagi camp had started a hunger strike to get the world’s attention.
“They want the United Nations to act on behalf of the people of Syria,” she said.
“They want Amnesty International and other human rights organisations to investigate the disappearances, the killings, the destruction of villages.”