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Syrian opposition’s meeting at UN SC is not its official recognition - envoy

July 26, 2013, 1:34 UTC+3

Russia has agreed to take part in the meeting

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UNITED NATIONS, July 26 (Itar-Tass) - An informal meeting between members of the U.N. Security Council and representatives of the Syrian opposition may not be considered its official recognition, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said.

“This is an absolutely informal event, not even that of the U.N. Security Council. The fact that the meeting will take place may not be considered a step towards recognising the National Coalition [for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces] in some official capacity,” Churkin told Russian journalists at the U.N. Headquarters on Thursday, July 25.

“The purpose of the meeting is to set the National Coalition and its leadership for preparing Geneva-2,” he added.

Russia has agreed to take part in the meeting in order to “advance the preparation of the conference in Geneva through informal discussion.”

The meeting has been called by Great Britain for this coming Friday, July 26.

On Tuesday, July 23, UK Permanent Representative to the U.N. Lyall Grant announced that the Security Council members would hold an informal meeting with a delegation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to be led by its new President Ahmad Jarba.

He said one of the purposes of the meeting would be preparing a second international conference in Geneva, commonly referred to as Geneva-2.

Grant told Russian journalists that he hoped for Russia’s participation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier, however, that the first statements by the Syrian national coalition’s new leader show no signs of commitment to political settlement in the country.

“Nevertheless, Moscow is ready to establish contact with the new leadership of the coalition in the interests of facilitating an end to the devastating conflict in Syria and the suffering of the friendly Syrian people through broad inter-Syrian dialogue with full respect for national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and without foreign interference,” Lukashevich said.

“At this point, in our opinion, which as far as we know is shared by our American partners, a priority task in facilitating a peaceful political settlement in Syria is to consolidate different groups of the Syrian opposition on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012,” the spokesperson said.

“In this respect, the new leadership of the National Coalition is expected to state clearly and unambiguously its readiness to send its representatives to the peaceful conference in Geneva in order to join other influential opposition groups at the negotiations with the Syrian government without preconditions and start a joint search for concrete parameters for political settlement in Syria in accordance with the Geneva Community,” Lukashevich said.

Moscow expects the Syrian opposition to agree to attend the international conference on Syria without preconditions, Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John 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.

However, the Syrian opposition has so far not confirmed its participation in the conference, which remains the main obstacle to holding it.

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