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MOSCOW, January 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is leaving for Paris on Sunday to discuss preparations for the Geneva-2 international conference for Syria with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is also planning to join the negotiators.
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Paris on January 12-13 to have a series of contacts to discuss preparations for an international peace conference on Syria to be held in Montreux,” a Russian Foreign Ministry source told Itar-Tass.
“He will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in a trilateral format on January 13,” the source went on to say.
The sides will set the final modalities for the forum, which is to start in Swiss Montreux on January 22. Initially, the conference was supposed to have been convened late in May 2013 as part of the Moscow agreements reached by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It is still unclear who will represent the Syrian opposition, which is facing one split after another, at the conference and whether Tehran will be invited to attend the forum.
Earlier, some representatives of the U.S. administration, including the State Department, said that Iran was unlikely to be invited to the gathering in Montreux.
In Montreux, the Russian foreign minister will hold a planned meeting with Ahmad al-Jarba, the leader of the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, who has recently been re-elected for another term. It is still unknown whether the meeting is going to take place on January 12 or January 13. So far, the actions of the al-Jarba-led movement can hardly be described as constructive.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the National Coalition continues setting preliminary conditions for its participation in the Geneva-2 conference in a bid to pre-determine its outcome. While in Paris, Ahmad al-Jarba will also attend a conference of the Friends of Syria Group.
U.S Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has visited Moscow in the run-up to a personal meeting, the first one this year, between the foreign policy chiefs of Russia and the United States. She has held consultations with three Russian deputy foreign ministers: Mikhail Bogdanov, Gennady Gatilov and Sergei Ryabkov.
“The sides stressed that the settlement of the Syrian crisis should be exclusively political and diplomatic and that any attempts of a military solution are unviable,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said after the talks of Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov with Wendy Sherman.
“The Russian representatives underlined the importance of joining the efforts of the Syrian government and patriotically-minded opposition in fighting against terrorist groups whose activity is threatening not only the future of Syria but also regional stability,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
While in Paris, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with MP Saad Hariri, the head of the Al Mustaqbal faction in the Lebanese parliament, and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Jauda.