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Russian, US, UN diplomats to attempt to agree on Geneva II date

November 05, 2013, 7:56 UTC+3
The first and the second rounds were held in Geneva in June and ended in failure
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 Lakhdar Brahimi, EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Lakhdar Brahimi, EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

GENEVA, November 5 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian and U.S. diplomats and U.N. representatives will meet again in Geneva on Tuesday to attempt to agree on a date to hold the second peace conference on Syria (Geneva II).

It will be the third round of such consultations, said the formal organizer of which is U.N and Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who calls for putting an end to the conflict lasting since March 2011. The crisis has already caused more than 100,000 casualties.

The first and the second rounds were held in Geneva in June and ended in failure. The parties failed to agree on two key issue -- in what format the opposition would be represented at the peace conference and what countries to invite. The West supports the "moderate" National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces and its leader Ahmad Al-Jarba. However, the coalition says its representatives will arrive in Geneva only if its demands are met, but the essence of its demands is in contrary to the idea of the convening of a peace forum. Al-Jarba stated that the coalition would not participate in the conference if a deadline was not set for Syrian President Bashar Assad's resignation. He also objects to inviting of Iran to the meeting. Washington shares the view, believing Iranians have nothing to do at Geneva II because Tehran has not supported all the agreements reached by the Action Group for Syria on June 30, last year. Moscow has the opposite view, noting Iran's great role in the region and its influence on Syrian developments.

Despite the disagreements, the meeting is planned to discuss texts of invitations for forum participants -- the government, the opposition and foreign players. The documents will be on the negotiating table, Brahimi's press secretary Khawla Mattar told Itar-Tass.

Speaking about dates to hold Geneva II, Mattar said it was unlikely to be announced on Tuesday, even if the parties came to an agreement. Brahimi repeatedly said that a date to hold the conference would be announced by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The press secretary also noted that the National Coalition would meet in Istanbul on November 9 to finally decide on its participation in Geneva II. So, It is unlikely that a date may be announced on Tuesday, she said.

Earlier, one of the leaders of the Syrian opposition, Qadri Jamil, said the forum might be held on November 23. However, the date was not officially confirmed.

During the third round, in the afternoon, representatives from other U.N. Security Council member countries, aside from Russia and the United States, will join the consultations. These are Great Britain, China and France. Delegations from states neighboring on Syria -- Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey, will join later. Given the fact that most of the two million Syrian refugees are in the neighboring countries, it is clear that the humanitarian aspect will be also discussed in Geneva.

Russia's representatives for the consultations are presidential envoy on the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

The U.S. delegation will be headed by Deputy Secretary of State for political affairs Wendy Sherman.


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