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Russia, US want Geneva-2 to be convened as soon as practically possible

August 12, 2013, 22:57 UTC+3

The international conference called upon to launch a peace process in Syria

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WASHINGTON, August 12 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and the United States want an international conference on Syria, commonly referred to as Geneva-2, to be convened as practically possible, U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said on Monday, August 12.

Commenting on the results of the U.S.-Russian 2+2 talks in Washington on Friday, August 9, Harf said Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had agreed to press for convening Geneva-2 as soon as practically possible.

The international conference called upon to launch a peace process in Syria will most likely take place in Geneva after August, Kerry said after talks with Lavrov in early July.

“We both agreed that that conference should happen sooner rather than later, though we have a 2+2 meeting between Russia and the United States in July, and obviously August is very difficult for Europeans and for others, so it may be somewhere thereafter, but that's being talked about,” Kerry said.

“On Syria, we had a very in-depth conversation, and I thought it was important to note that Foreign Minister Lavrov believes, as I do, and as I think President Obama and President Putin believe, that there are two countries that can have the most significant difference on this question, and they are Russia and the United States. We agreed that we are both serious, more than serious - committed to the Geneva process, and we both agreed that our countries have an ability to be able to make a difference if we can pull together in that effort,” the Secretary of State said.

Kerry said the two countries had “made progress in talking through and building on some of the issues that were discussed in Geneva on June 25th by our Under Secretary Wendy Sherman and by their deputy, Mr. Bogdanov, as well as Lakhdar Brahimi.”

A preparatory trilateral meeting was held in Geneva on June 25.

Moscow expects the Syrian opposition to agree to attend the international conference on Syria without preconditions, Russian president's special representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to hold an international conference on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012, in order to try to overcome the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov and Kerry said that their countries would encourage both the Syrian government and opposition groups to look for a political solution.

The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, has consistently called on the U.S. and Russia to exercise leadership and work together to initiate a process to implement the Geneva Declaration of June 30, 2012.

That document - issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria - lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among other items, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

The U.N. estimates that some 6.8 million people inside Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance - nearly half of them children.

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