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Lavrov, Muallem to mull talks between Syria govt and opposition

February 25, 2013, 2:59 UTC+3

Lavrov's opinion is that the situation concerning this most complex issue starts moving off the dead center

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MOSCOW, February 25 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov meets with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem here on Monday to discuss ways to bring the government and the opposition of Syria to the negotiating table. Lavrov's opinion is that the situation concerning this most complex issue starts moving off the dead center.

Reliance on settling the conflict by force by any side does not work: the sanguinary combat actions and statements about "a continuation of the war until a victorious end" led nowhere. The supply of shells is finite -- some time one would have to arrange for negotiations. The latest statements by officials of the current regime in Damascus and by its opponents inspire a cautious optimism, although the sides surround the start of a dialogue with pre-conditions. It appears that in the camp of a number of Western outside players and in countries in the region there is growing awareness of the prospectlesness of the use-of-force scenario.

First, an intervention from the outside will not bring about any legitimate outer covering for the move. Second, to continue to arm the rebels, who later on will possibly set sights at their sponsors, is at least a folly. The emergence of "new Afghanistans" is fraught with dangers primarily for their originators themselves. In other words, the West becomes a hostage of its own "double standards".

The meeting between Sergei Lavrov and Ahmed Mouaz Al-Khatib, head of the National coalition of opposition and revolutionary forces, in Munich gave certain chances for the start of political consultations about Syria's future. The press activley propounds the idea of talks between the Syrian government and the opposition on the Moscow floor, which has quite realistic grounds. "If it is comfortable (for the negotiators) to start a dialogue in Moscow, we shall provide all opportunities (for that)," Lavrov emphasized. "We do not set such an aim before ourselves. We are working for a beginning of dialogue".

The Minister called on the sides to check in practice their preparedness for a dialogue. On Monday, Lavrov will apparently ask Muallem an appropriate question about that.

At the same time, fragile hopes for a political solution to the crisis may collapse. Yet another series of bloody terrorist acts in Damascus has not been condemned at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) owing to Washington's stand. Guided by "political expediency", the US blocked the draft statement at the UNSC. "Practically all UNSC Members were resolved to condemn the perpetrators and organizers of the terrorist act in Syria. Efforts to do that failed first of all because our American partners declined, and not for the first time, unreservedly to condemn the terrorist act, seeking to find additonal formulas which would directly or indirectly justify those who are fighting the regime in such a way," Lavrov pointed out.

The Minister recalled that Russia at one time -- without delay and without requests for consultations in the capital, had condemned the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi.

Meanwhile, the Geneva Communique, some signatories of which, it seems, did not even start to implement, still remains on the table. People continue to die in Syria. It is possible to stop the bloodshed only by manifesting a responsible approach to the implementation of the accord in reached in Geneva.


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