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GENEVA, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — A trilateral meeting on Syria with the participation of Russian, US diplomats and UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will be held in Geneva on Friday. The Russian delegation will be headed by Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the American – by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated in the run-up to the meeting that it hopes to continue the search for a solution to the Syrian crisis based on the Geneva Communiqu· and with taking into account a number of recent ideas of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow hopes for “the effective continuation of the search of ways of international assistance to resolve the acute internal crisis in Syria, in particular, proceeding form the need to rely on the Geneva Communiqu· of the Action Group of June 30, 2012 and subject to a number of ideas voiced by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on January 6, 2013,” said the RF Foreign Ministry.
“The Syrian leader, in particular, confirmed the readiness to launch the inter-Syrian dialogue and reform the country based on Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, as it is proclaimed in the UN Charter, other international instruments and the Geneva Communiqu· of June 30, 2012,” the ministry noted.
In Washington, Assad’s speech is assessed differently. Thus, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland a few days ago called the plan for the country’s conflict settlement put forward by the Syrian president “yet another attempt by the regime to cling to power and does nothing to advance the Syrian people’s goal of a political transition.”
The official of the US Department of State stressed that “For nearly two years, the Assad regime has brutalised its own people,” she said. “Even today, as Assad speaks of dialogue, the regime is deliberately stoking sectarian tensions and continuing to kill its own people.” Nuland reiterated the US position, according to which the Syrian president “has lost all legitimacy and must step aside to enable a political solution and a democratic transition that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people.”
The UN expects that despite the difference of views between Moscow and Washington on Syria the constructive dialogue and the search for a solution to the conflict in the Arab country will be continued in Geneva. “We expect a useful exchange of views,” UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Martin Nesirky stated.
The previous meeting in this format was held in Geneva on December 9, last year. Since then Brahimi has visited Moscow, Damascus and Cairo.
Last week, the UN issued a new report on the Syrian conflict victims, according to which, 59,648 people were killed in the country in the period from March 15, 2011 to November 30, 2012. More than five million people in Syria need urgent humanitarian assistance. In addition, more than 540 thousand people have fled the country hiding from violence in the neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, as well as in North Africa. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees fears that in the first half of this year this number will exceed one million.