MOSCOW, June 18 (Itar-Tass) —— High-ranking Russian and Syrian officials discussed ways to promote the idea of calling an international conference on Syria.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with the Syrian president’s political and media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban on Monday, June 18. They discussed the situation in Syria and ways to resolve the crisis.
“Bogdanov familiarised Shaaban in detail with the Russian efforts towards that goal, including the promotion of the initiative to call an international conference on Syria in order to ensure implementation of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan’s plan approved by the U.N. Security Council,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“The Syrian side stated principled support for the idea. Shaaban stressed Damascus’ desire to normalise the situation in the country as soon as possible, stop violence and foster constructive dialogue with the opposition forces that are prepared for that,” the ministry said.
She expressed gratitude for Russia’s strong objection to foreign interference in Syria’s affairs, for creation of favourable conditions for political and diplomatic settlement and noted the inadmissibility of sponsorship for rebels and arms supplies to them as well as attempts to incite broader confrontation through mass media, the ministry said.
Russia offers to host an international conference on Syria in Moscow but is ready to consider other options as well, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier.
“We are ready to consider other options, if this is more convenient for the invited parties,” Lavrov said.
He stressed that Russia would not let the conference on Syria go under the umbrella of the Group of Friends.
He said the discussion should involve all sides concerned.
“If someone has concerns that we will let the conference go under the 'umbrella' of the Friends of Syria Group, I can dispel them right away. If everyone wants to support the Kofi Annan plan, they should join their ranks around all consolidating ideas,” the minister said
According to Lavrov, this conference should bring together countries that have influence on all sides involved in the Syrian conflict. “At the initial stage this event should be held without the Syrians,” Lavrov said, adding that in his opinion about 15 participants will attend the conference.
“All the participants must say honestly there: yes, we supported [the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis] Kofi Annan [plan] and we meant to implement it and help implement it,” the minister said.
“To this end, each of these external players should use its influence with a certain Syrian party, making all Syrians stop the violence as the Kofi Anna plan and the U.N. Security Council resolution require, and then bring all of them to the negotiating table on the basis of this plan,” Lavrov said.