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Russian, UK foreign ministers discuss Syria, Geneva II

November 04, 2013, 19:24 UTC+3

The ministers also discussed some other pressing international and bilateral issues

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MOSCOW, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had a telephone conversation with his British colleague William Hague on Monday, November 4, to discuss the situation in Syria and the preparation of the Geneva II conference on the resolution of the Syrian crisis.

“The sides exchanged views on the situation in Syria, including in the context of the efforts to prepare the international conference Geneva II,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The ministers also discussed some other pressing international and bilateral issues,” it added.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to continue efforts to convene an international conference on Syria, known as Geneva II, amid speculation about a possible military operation against that country.

“It is important that we continue to pursue, to convene a Geneva conference as soon as possible. This political resolution, political solution, is the only viable option at this time,” Ban said.

He said “there remains an urgent need for the international conference in Geneva and a cessation of hostilities” because “the Syrian people need peace.”

“This political ... solution, is the only viable option at this time,” Ban said and vowed that he and Brahimi, would “continue to work very closely together with the United States and Russia, who were the original initiators of this.”

“While the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria we must push even harder for the International Conference on Syria to take place in Geneva. A political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria,” the U.N. Secretary-General said.

According to the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, the proposed Geneva II conference to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis must include representatives from the Syrian government as well as the opposition.

“The difference between Geneva I and Geneva II is that in Geneva II, Syria will be represented by two delegations, the first representing the Syrian Government and the second representing the Syrian opposition,” Brahimi said.

Over the past few days, Brahimi has been meeting with senior officials in various countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria itself, where he met with President Bashar al-Assad, with the aim of creating the conditions to hold the conference.

“All countries visited expressed significant interest in Geneva II because of the great attention regarding the situation in Syria and the outcome of the crisis, which is causing the Syrian people to suffer greatly,” Brahimi said. “Everyone wants to contribute, one way or the other, to prepare for Geneva II and put an end to the crisis in Syria.”

The goal of Geneva II would be to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the Government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012.

The communique lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among others, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

“I believe that the Geneva Communique enables the Syrian brothers to overcome the crisis and opens the way toward building their new republic,” Brahimi said.

As the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Brahimi has consistently called on the U.S. and Russia to exercise leadership and work together to initiate a process to implement the Geneva Declaration of June 30, 2012.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Lavrov and 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.

More than 100,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since March 2011 when opposition protesters first sought the ouster of the Assad Government, and a further 6.5 million people have been displaced, the U.N. said.

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