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Lakhdar Brahimi ready to discuss conference on Syria with Lavrov and Kerry

September 11, 2013, 20:20 UTC+3

Ban Ki-moon urges the international community to continue efforts to convene an international conference on Syria

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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Artiom Korotaev

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Artiom Korotaev

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 (Itar-Tass) - The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, is ready to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the preparation of the Geneva II conference on Syria, U.N. deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Wednesday, September 11.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to continue efforts to convene an international conference on Syria, known as Geneva II, amid speculation about a possible military operation against that country.

“It is important that we continue to pursue, to convene a Geneva conference as soon as possible. This political resolution, political solution, is the only viable option at this time,” Ban said on September 9.

He said “there remains an urgent need for the international conference in Geneva and a cessation of hostilities” because “the Syrian people need peace.”

“This political ... solution, is the only viable option at this time,” Ban said and vowed that he and Brahimi, would “continue to work very closely together with the United States and Russia, who were the original initiators of this.”

The latest developments in Syria, including the purported use of chemical weapons, highlight the urgent need for convening Geneva II, an international conference on Syria,” Haq said earlier.

“While the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria we must push even harder for the International Conference on Syria to take place in Geneva. A political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria,” the U.N. Secretary-General said.

“We should, against all the odds, seek the earliest convocation of the Geneva II conference in accordance with the Russian-U.S. initiative adopted on May 7 of this year,” Lavrov said.

“We need to do everything to move towards realization of the assigned goals: the unification of efforts of the Syrian government and opposition to eradicate terrorism and oust terrorists from Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The government and opposition should reach an agreement in principle on how a transition period should take place in Syria. It should be based on common accord between the government and the opposition,” Lavrov said.

He stressed that there was no alternative to a political settlement in Syria.

“Any leader who will be attending the [G20] summit can raise any issue. We are prepared for such discussion. Our position is clear and consistent. It has been unequivocally reiterated by President Vladimir Putin. We are committed to the agreements reached at the G8 summit, including those concerning chemical weapons,” the minister said at a traditional meeting with students and faculty members of Moscow’s MGIMO University of International Relations.

“All eight leaders have stated that the use of chemical weapons by anyone is unacceptable and that any report on possible uses of such weapons must be investigated professionally and impartially and the findings must be presented to the U.N. Security Council,” Lavrov said.

Moscow hopes that everyone who signed the summit’s statement “will respect the common agreement and take guidance from it. We remain convinced that there is no alternative to political settlement,” the minister said.

Russian and American experts were scheduled to meet in The Hague on August 28 to prepare the international conference on Syria, commonly referred to Geneva II. But the meeting did not take place.

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 ... 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.

Moscow said earlier it expected the Syrian opposition to agree to attend the international conference on Syria without preconditions.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Lavrov and 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.

As the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, 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 seven million people inside Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance - nearly half of them children.

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