Russia on Thursday clashed with the European Union over Syria, accusing the bloc of politicizing aid by linking reconstruction funds to a political transition that would end the war.
The European Union in April secured pledges of $6 billion in aid for Syria, now in its seventh year of war.
At an EU-organized conference held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said aid was being used as a political tool to build pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The politicization of issues related to aid and the statements on the need to wait for the end of the political process are unacceptable,” said Gennady Gatilov.
European officials insist that aid will not flow to Syria until a credible political transition is agreed during UN-led negotiations to end the war.
But Gatilov said aid was needed now “to rebuild schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that a second conference on reconstruction aid for Syria will be held in the spring of 2018.
“We are ready to help even more, to see how we can help to bring back normal life in areas where violence has de-escalated, and to start working on reconstruction, only once a political agreement has been reached in Geneva,” said Mogherini.
The United Nations is planning to convene a new round of peace talks next month between Syria’s government and the foreign-backed armed opposition even though past negotiations have failed to yield progress.