MOSCOW, March 13 (Itar-Tass) — Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan may express his first assessment of the situation in Syria in the short run, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Tuesday.
“I hope that in the next few days, Kofi Annan, who has already visited Damascus, and is currently visiting countries neighbouring on Syria, will be able to present his first assessments on paper. And we have all agreed that on this basis we will be ready to talk about how his efforts could be supported, to formalise the ideas that he will express,” Lavrov said.
“It’s clear who can talk to Damascus, but it is unclear who can talk to rather disparate, motley groups, which offer armed resistance to the Syrian authorities in various Syrian cities,” the minister said in this regard.
“The first and absolute priority is to stop the violence, we must develop a monitoring mechanism, which would be acceptable to both the authorities and the opposition, including the armed opposition groups, which could be used in order to declare a ceasefire so that nobody could try to use this situation to his advantage, any violence must be stopped,” the Russian foreign minister said.
The second challenge, he said, is to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria. “Part of the agreements should be the obligation of all parties to let pass without hindrance humanitarian goods under the UN aegis,” Lavrov said. “Our today’s conversations fixed the understanding that the UN leading role in these processes is accepted by all,” he added.
“The third problem, which we also link with Kofi Annan’s mission, is to prepare the ground for the start of the pan-Syrian dialogue. It is important to convince the opposition, among which there are groups that generally reject the dialogue, there are also groups that merely call for armed struggle instead of any dialogue, so it is necessary to convince them all that there is no alternative to dialogue. This is also included in the mandate of Kofi Annan and his team,” Lavrov said.
Thus, according to the minister, Annan “has already set the task to one of his staff members to encourage the opposition to unite on the platform of readiness for a dialogue with the authorities.”