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MOSCOW, July 22 (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to have a meeting Monday with the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, the leader of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation. The talks will be held before noon Moscow Standard Time in the headquarters of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Smolenskaya Square.
“Focal attention will be given to the situation around Syria and the prospects for a convocation of the international meeting in Geneva,” a spokesman for the ministry told Itar-Tass
Moscow and the West have so far failed to attain compromise on key parameters of the conference. Nor is it clear yet who will represent the Syrian opposition and what countries will be invited to attend the discussions.
The Syrian government has expressed readiness to take part in the conference in line with an earlier Russian-U.S. initiative. As for the radical opposition represented by the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces and some other oppositionist groupings, they have not confirmed any definitive intention to take part in the forum without any preconditions.
Iran’s participation in the talks remains a crucial unresolved issue. Sergei Lavrov has said on many occasions that “all of Syria’s neighbors should be invited /to the conference table in Geneva/ and Iran should be present there, too.”
“That’s the inevitable necessity if we’re really seeking a comprehensive peace process,” Lavrov said.
The first round of negotiations on convening the Geneva conference was held in the Russia-U.S.-UN format June 5 and the second round took place three weeks later, with the same participants seated at the conference table.
Contradictions on the Syrian peace settlement between the parties to the conflict and, broadly, between different segments of the international community, remain firmly in place and the date of the next preparatory meeting is shrouded in uncertainty.
A diplomatic source told Itar-Tass the conference will take place in September at the very best, if at all. The sources of Western news agencies are far more skeptical - they believe that likelihood of the forum before the end of the year is practically zero.