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Chances of success at Russian-US legislators’ meeting over Syria slim

September 03, 2013, 18:56 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, September 3 (Itar-Tass) - The international affairs committee of the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia’s parliament) is discussing the composition of a delegation that may go to the United States for a meeting with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to discuss Syria, the committee’s deputy chairman, Andrei Klimov has told ITAR-TASS.

On Monday, the speakers of both houses of Russia’s Federal Assembly, Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin, proposed an idea of sending a Russian parliamentary delegation to the United States for a meeting with American legislators to discuss ways of settling the Syrian problem peacefully.

Matviyenko addressed President Vladimir Putin in these words: “We shall send a delegation to the United States or invite senators to Russia to enter into a dialogue, if you don’t mind.”

Putin replied he did not quite understood in what way he might be helpful to the heads of both houses of parliament, but at the same time described their initiative as “timely and correct.”

The deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrei Klimov, told Itar-Tass in an interview “any way of briefing our counterparts at the US Congress on the complexity of the situation in the Middle East and the risks a military adventure in Syria would be fraught with.”

“We cannot force US congressmen to meet with us, but we are obliged to go ahead with negotiations in the insane situation surrounding Syria,” he said.

A deputy chairman of the Centre for the Promotion of Russian-US Rapprochement, Yevgeny Savostyanov, when asked in an interview for Itar-Tass what he thought of the Russian legislators’ idea, recalled a quote from the Hollywood classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, ‘At least I tried.’

Savostyanov believes that at negotiations with the US congressmen, if such a meeting does take place, Russian legislators should try to show their counterparts of the risk of supporting reactionary forces in Syria - the followers of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Also, the analyst said, “The US counterparts should be persuaded preparations for Geneva negotiations must go on. In the meantime, Russia might be prepared to put pressures on Syria’s president Bashar Assad, and the Americans, on the Opposition. Negotiations in Geneva might give a chance of ending the state of war.”

The president of the non-governmental Foreign and Defence Policy Council, Fyodor Lukyanov, is less optimistic. In an interview to Itar-Tass he described the Russian legislators’ attempt at holding talks with US congressmen as “futile.”

“Irrespective of whether this is right or wrong, the Russian parliament is seen in the US Congress as a not quite legitimate one. The reputation of Russian elections is not very high there,” he said. US Senators are not in the mood of yielding to external pressures, of sharing others’ opinions, in particular, the opinion of Russian legislators. After all, they keep getting complaints from Russia over the impossibility to hand over Russian orphans to potential adoptive parents in the United States. As for the controversial Dima Yakovlev Act, some members of the delegation from the Federation Council will surely be involved in its adoption.

A veteran Soviet and Russian diplomat, Anatoly Adamishin, has told ITAR-TASS in an interview that he welcomes the idea of Russian legislators to discuss the explosive situation around Syria with their US counterparts. At the same time he added that this initiative was unlikely to yield any positive results.

“Russia and the United States have different attitudes to the situation in Syria. The congressmen that share Russia’s attitude to the crisis do not have to persuaded. And those who are not against will not change their mind anyway,” the veteran diplomat warns.

For his part Anatoly Adamishin asked a hypothetical question: “As far as I know, Russian legislators are going to fly to Washington to campaign among US Congress members against Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East. But what if one imagines a mirror situation?”