A top Lebanese politician on Wednesday hailed Russia for helping Syria avoid international sanctions stemming from the U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Russian news agencies cited Walid Jumblatt as saying that those who killed Hariri should be prosecuted by an international tribunal, but he added that U.N. sanctions against Syria would be unproductive.
Russia has "played a big role in helping Syria avoid sanctions," Jumblatt, the political leader of the Druse community, was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying upon arrival in Moscow.
"This is good for us, because sanctions don't help. We don't want a replay of Iraq," he said.
A U.N. resolution sponsored by the United States, Britain and France passed Monday with the support of all 15 Security Council nations. It threatened unspecified action if Syria did not cooperate with the U.N. probe.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow voted for the resolution because other Security Council members took into account its objections to earlier drafts that threatened economic sanctions and included other wording it opposed, such as an accusation of Syrian involvement in terrorism.
The resolution came less than two weeks after the release of a U.N. report that concluded it was not likely Hariri could have been killed without senior Syrian approval.
Soviet-era allies Russia and Syria have sought recently to bolster their relationship, and Moscow had warned it would oppose a resolution threatening sanctions, the AP informs.
At the same time, Russia urged Syria to fully cooperate with a U.N. probe into Hariri's assassination.