UPDATE 1-Russia opposes Syria's suspension from Arab League

Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:03am GMT

* Lavrov says suspending Syria counter-productive

* Accuses West of discouraging Syria dialogue

* Emphasises opposition to new Iran sanctions (Adds quotes, details)

By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Russia opposes the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria and believes Western nations are inciting opponents of President Bashar al-Assad to seek his removal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Monday.

Russian news agencies said Lavrov had also reiterated Moscow's opposition to any new international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme and said other countries were whipping up tension to justify imposing unilateral sanctions.

His remarks underscored the Kremlin's disagreements with the West and other nations on how to end months of violence in Syria and persuade Iran to address international concerns that it could be seeking nuclear weapons.

"We believe it is wrong to suspend Syria's membership of the Arab League," state-run RIA news agency quoted Lavrov as saying during a flight back to Moscow from a Pacific Rim summit in Hawaii, where he accompanied President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Those who made this decision have lost a very important opportunity to shift the situation into a more transparent channel," said Lavrov, whose country often warns that too much pressure on recalcitrant governments can be counter-productive.   Continued...

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