MOSCOW, November 18, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia called on all external players who can help settle the Syrian crisis to participate in the Geneva II international conference on Syria.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian in Moscow on Monday, November 18, to discuss the situation in Syria with a focus on the preparation of Geneva II, the Foreign Ministry said.
Bogdanov stressed the need for all external players who can make a real contribution to the Syrian settlement, including Iran, to participate in the conference as there is no alternative to the peaceful solution on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012.
The diplomats “also discussed some other pressing issues in the region, including transformation processes in some North African countries and the Persian Gulf area,” the ministry said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia should also take part in Geneva II as the most influential Muslim countries. “It has been agreed that the talks will be conducted by the Syrians themselves. They will be helped only by Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. But the conference, and everyone agrees with this, should be opened in the presence of ‘external players’ which influence the situation one way or another or bear responsibility for maintaining peace and security,” he said.
The minister noted that the obvious candidates were those who drafted the Geneva Communique and participated in the conference in Geneva on June 30, 2012: the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the League of Arab States, the European Union, and Turkey.
“We want this circle to be enlarged because last year’s conference was not attended by Iran and Saudi Arabia, and these are two countries that are associated with the main sponsors of different warring factions in Syria,” Lavrov said.
He thinks that the presence of these countries at the conference is important because Iran is perceived as the leader of Shi’ism in Islam, and Saudi Arabia as the leader of Sunnis. “It is fundamentally important to have all branches of Islam represented because the Syrian crisis, just like many other crises in the Middle East, has a clearly pronounced Islamic dimension,” the minister said.
He warned against attempts to “ignore the fact that the division within Islam between the Sunnis and Shiites poses an enormous threat to security not only in this region but far beyond it.”
Lavrov also stressed the importance of inviting Indonesia to the conference, which is the world’s largest Muslim country and which “wants to take part in the conference being aware of responsibility for the situation in the Islamic world.”
“We should also invite the leaders of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which brings together all Muslims without exception and which is called upon to promote common approaches allowing Islamic countries to play an equal role in solving international problems without pandering to divisions within the Islamic world,” the Russian foreign minister said.
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.
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.