Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and Russia's
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hold a joint news conference
at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says supplying the
Syrian opposition with weapons is illegal under international
law, a day after Britain floated the possibility it might
bypass an EU arms embargo to do just that.
"International law does not permit the supply of arms to
non-governmental actors and our point of view is that it is a
violation of international law," Lavrov told a news
conference in London via a translator.
Russia, which has itself sold weapons to the Syrian
government of President Bashar al-Assad and has repeatedly
blocked tough action against him at the United Nations, says
the only way to solve the Syrian crisis is through dialogue.
But Britain, and countries such as France and Turkey, are
increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in that
direction and have begun to talk about the possibility of
lifting an EU arms embargo to allow the rebels to be armed.
Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary William Hague stressed
that they both believed in political dialogue, but their
difference of opinion over arming the rebels and over taking
tough action against Syria in the U.N. Security Council laid
bare their disunity.
Lavrov said he was concerned about the presence of Islamist
radicals among the rebels. The two-year-old conflict started
out as pro-democracy protests, but has descended into an
increasingly sectarian war. Some 70,000 people have been
killed and more than one million refugees have fled the