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Russia speaks for prompt resumption of inter-Syrian contacts - deputy foreign ministe

December 11, 2014, 23:59 updated at: December 12, 2014, 6:27 UTC+3 BEIRUT
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BEIRUT, December 12. /TASS/. Russia speaks for the soonest possible settlement of the Syrian crisis, a deputy Russian foreign minister said.

“Moscow’s efforts are designed to create a favorable atmosphere to resume serious and stable political and diplomatic work on the basis of the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who is the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and African countries, told Russian journalists in Beirut.

“We have a proposal to provide the Moscow site for contacts between Syrians,” the Russian diplomat said. “We call these contacts consultative and preparative, having in mind that the sides will not put forward any preliminary conditions, nor will there be any previously agreed issues on the agenda.”

Bogdanov explained that at first, representatives of various opposition groups that act in Syria and beyond its borders could gather in Moscow. “At the second stage, representatives of the Syrian government could come, and then more specific formats, for example, a conference, could be agreed upon,” he said.

The diplomat stressed that such a conference “should be based on the negotiating process between the Syrian conflicting sides with involvement of influential external players who could contribute to display of flexibility with the purpose to reach compromise solutions.”

The deputy Russian foreign minister indicated that he first of all means such countries as Russia, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.

“If Syrian partners show a relevant desire, we hope to organize these meetings as promptly as we can, maybe even by the end of January 2015,” Bogdanov said. “The sooner such contacts are held, the better.”

He noted that “Syrians should have long ago sat down to the negotiating table, shown the most serious and responsible approach toward the development of common denominators and approaches to save the country, save its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“The bloody fratricidal war has been ongoing in Syria for four years. According to various estimates, 200,000 people have been killed, many cities are in ruins, infrastructure has been destroyed and there are millions of refugees,” Bogdanov said.

“Continuation of this war is just madness,” the Russian diplomat said. “In many districts, people are in an extremely difficult conditions and need humanitarian aid, foodstuffs and medications. Winter has come, and much should be done for life support of the population. Refugees are deprived of shelter and live in tent camps on the territory of Syria and in neighboring countries - Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey.”

Besides, the deputy Russian foreign minister said, “it is necessary to think already now by which means and forces to restore Syria’s destroyed economy.”

The Geneva Communique was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an “action group” on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as “Geneva-1.”

Its logical continuation, an international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States, kicked off on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland. The conference sought to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis. No particular progress was reported after two rounds were held in January and February 2014. The parties to the Syrian conflict agreed to continue their discussions.

Fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels has left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics.

An international deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, mediated in September 2013, prevented a likely US-led military intervention in the Middle East country. The process of disarmament in Syria was launched after hundreds of civilians died in a chemical attack made on a Damascus suburb in August 2013.

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