7 Feb 2012

Syrian killings condemned by NZ

7:43 pm on 7 February 2012

New Zealand is to formally express its dismay to the Syrian government on the violence in the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the attack on Homs by Syrian government forces on Monday was reprehensible and deserves the strongest condemnation.

He says the Syrian representative in Canberra will be asked to express New Zealand's view directly to the government in Damascus.

He told Checkpoint he had asked New Zealand officials in the Australian capital to speak to the Syrian charge d'affaires there about the level of New Zealand's anxiety at the current escalation of violence.

The main opposition party says 50 people died in the sustained attack on the city, most of them civilians.

Mr McCully says New Zealand is also trying to communicate with member countries of the United Nations Security Council to convey to them Wellington's concern that the Council appeared to be paralysed in the face of mounting violence.

He says he outlined New Zealand's concerns over the situation to Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, last week when he was visiting New Zealand.

He says the situation in Syria appears to have worsened since the failure of Security Council discussions last week, and he is urging council members to work together to find a way to address the Syrian crisis.

The resolution, based on an Arab League plan for a political transition in Syria, was derailed when Russia and China vetoed the draft text.