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RF urges Damascus to seek dialogue with opposition – Lavrov

February 25, 2013, 14:45 UTC+3

Russia’s position on Syria remains principled and unchanged, the minister said

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MOSCOW, February 25 (Itar-Tass) – Russia urges Syria to seek the dialogue with the opposition and prevent any provocations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russia’s position on Syria remains principled and unchanged, the minister said. “We want Syria to be independent and united and all groups, irrespective their confession and political sympathies, to live in peace and under stable and democratic conditions,” he said.

Opening the talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Monday, Lavrov said, “Under these circumstances the need arises for the Syrian leadership to seek the dialogue and prevent any provocations. There is no alternative to the political settlement and it is necessary to coordinate all issues by dialogue between the government and the opposition.”

Lavrov said further bloodshed in Syria could be fraught with the dissipation of the state.

“We watch the situation and voice concern about the development of the situation. We believe that the situation is at the crossroads. If anyone chooses the way towards continuing the bloodshed and aggravating the conflict, this can lead to dissipating the state,” Lavrov said.

“Those who are interested in continuing the war to the bitter end in Syria try to squash positive tendencies for starting the dialogue,” the Russian minister said.

“Russia’s position remains unchanged and consistent. It is conditioned by sincere care of the fate of the Syrian people and our ancient friend and partner, and the beautiful country, which should not be destroyed, of course.” Lavrov said he is hopeful, “Today we can talk what should be done to create conditions for a dialogue. I’m sure that the audience and journalists, who cover the event, support the beginning of the dialogue. Their support will inspire us,” the minister said.

For his part, Muallem said Damascus is ready for the talks with the opposition, including with the armed one.

“We are ready to hold the dialogue with all who seeks it, even with those who are with deadly force. That is why we are sure that the reforms can be carried out only through dialogue,” Muallem said.

“What has happened in Syria is the war against terrorism. One of Al Qaeda’s affiliates Jabhat al-Nusra conducts main military actions. They involved militants from 28 countries of the world, including from Chechnya,” the Syrian foreign minister said.

Damascus remained to be committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict. “To this end, the government commission led by the prime minister was created to hold talks with the opposition and even outside of the country.” “We will be committed to the peaceful settlement and continue fighting terrorism,” he added.

Muallem said he wanted to thank Russia for its position on Syria. “We are glad that others are also close to Moscow’s stance because it is bringing the crisis in Syria closer,” the Syrian minister said.

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