MOSCOW, July 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will discuss the settlement of Syria’s crisis at the talks in Moscow on Monday.
“The talks will focus on the current situation around Syria and prospects for the intra-Syrian settlement,” a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass earlier.
Experts believe that Lavrov and Annan will first of all discuss the situation in the UN Security Council in relation to Syria. Russia submitted to the Council its draft resolution gaining China’s support and envisaging prolongation for 90 days of the UN observer mission in Syria, whose mandate expires on July 20.
At present, two draft resolutions on Syria are on discussion at the UN Security Council. The first one, developed by Russia, extends the UN mission’s mandate for another 90 days without imposing any sanctions. The Western-backed draft extends the mandate for 45 days and threatens sanctions in compliance with the UN Charter against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime if it doesn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from population centres within 10 days.
Moscow speaks against external pressure on Syria and will vote against the UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Damascus.
It is expected that Moscow will brief Kofi Annan on the results of the recent contacts with representatives of Syria’s opposition groups that took place on July 9-11.
The UN-Arab League envoy will summarize the consultations he held in Iran and Iraq as well as meetings with representatives of the Syrian authorities.
Annan visited the Russian capital on March 24 to discuss the Syrian crisis settlement. However, observers say the envoy’s current visit takes place in a more tense atmosphere than before.