Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin on Tuesday slammed some news reports about his meetings with the Qatari foreign minister on Syria as "blatant lies" that are "dirty," "provocative" and intended to "drive a wedge between Russia and the Arab world."
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (top R) meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (top L) as aids listen on, at the presidential palace in Damascus, on February 7, 2012. [Xinhua/AFP]
Churkin told a press conference that some media carried what he called "incredible reports" about his meetings with Qatari Prime Minster and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al- Thani, who was at the UN Headquarters a few days ago to seek support from the Security Council for an Arab League plan to demand Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
"This is with regard to some incredible reports which have surfaced from various sources, some Arab sources, Internet sources from the Arab world about my meetings with the prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar here last week," Churkin said.
"According to those reports, they give some rather graphic details of the rude things I said to the prime minister of Qatar and threats I've made, et cetera, et cetera," the Russian diplomat said. "I've been dealing with the media for over a quarter of a century, and I've not said anything like that. There is misinformation. There are lies, there are blatant lies."
"So it's just dishonest and dirty and provocative of course," he said, without mentioning the names of any news media carrying such reports.
According to the senior Russian diplomat, those reports said that he threatened the Qatari leader during their meetings here.
Churkin denied the reports, stressing: "I did not use any threat during the meetings. It's not my style."
He said that he did not even use "a hint of threat" during the meetings.
"There was not even a hint of any threats, intimidation, rudeness from me or from the prime minister of Qatar," Churkin said.
"Somebody is trying very hard to drive a wedge between Russia and the Arab world, highlighting Russian sensitivity over suggestions that its Syrian veto many have seriously antagonized Arab countries, whose causes Moscow has long said it champions."
Churkin also revealed details about his three meetings with the Qatari prime minister in New York.
"One meeting was in the presence of the secretary-general of the League of Arab States and the room was full with people and I think it was the prime minister of Qatar's delegation," he said.
"Another meeting was in the presence of his delegation and four other permanent representatives of China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa," he said. "The final meeting before his departure was in the presence also of the entire delegation ..."
"You understand very well that if you want to make threats and discuss arms shipments or whatever, you don't talk in the presence of 20 people including your colleagues from the Security Council, "he added.
Meanwhile, the Russian envoy criticized some media reports that "exaggerated the rude reaction from some of my Western colleagues. "
"They may have their purposes in mind," Churkin said. "But I think the side effect, or maybe purpose of some of those reactions, is to create hostility toward Russia in the Arab world and that of course is not appreciated."
Russia, together with China which is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council, vetoed on Saturday a draft resolution jointly drawn up by Arab states and Western powers, which meant to "fully support an Arab League plan to demand the Syrian president to step down.
Russia said that the draft would have put too little pressure on the armed opposition of Syria, thus sending "an unbalanced signal" to all the Syrian parties.
"The issue here is not about Russia, not about China, (but) is about how to end violence in Syria," Churkin said, adding that the Russian government is committed to seeking a proper political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
Churkin said that the Western powers should be more patient as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov just visited Syria on Tuesday, as part of the international diplomacy aimed at ending peacefully the 11-month turmoil in the Middle East country.
However, he did not give any details on Lavrov's Syria tour.
Lavrov, who described his talks with the Syrian leaders as " very useful meetings," was quoted on Tuesday by Interfax as saying: "The president of Syria assured us he was completely committed to the task of stopping violence regardless of where it may come from. "