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Lavrov: Participation of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Geneva-2 crucial

November 19, 2013, 10:04 UTC+3 MOSCOW

“Presence of absolutely all the countries influencing various aspects of the Syrian crisis in this conference has fundamental importance,” Russia's Foreign Minister said in an interview

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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsyn

MOSCOW, November 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that Iran and Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Geneva-2 conference is crucial.

“Presence of absolutely all the countries influencing various aspects of the Syrian crisis in this conference has fundamental importance,” Lavrov says in an interview published by the Moscow-based Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. “I mean Iran and Saudi Arabia, in the first place, because support of the (Syrian) opposition and the government is associated with these two countries.”

He recalls that a new meeting of Russian and US experts with the special representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been scheduled for November 25 and contacts with other permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as with representatives of Arab countries and Turkey will also take place, as they will take part in the so-called external circle of this conference.

“It’s equally important to ensure that the irreconcilable contradictions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn’t aggravate a very serious rift that has taken contours within the Islamic world - the rift between the Sunnis associated with Saudi Arabia and the Shiites, in the realm of which Iran is perceived as the leader,” Lavrov says.

“We urge the Islamic countries to surmount all of these contradictions,” he says.

“We (Russia) have a very big Islamic population that is an integral part of our nation and that has always lived on the territory of our country,” Lavrov says. “And these internal splits in Islam affect the Moslem community in any country of the world.”

“There are many problems in that sphere and some forces are trying to sweep them under the rug by displaying political correctness or not mentioning the rift between the Sunnis and the Shiites,” he says. “In the meantime, that’s the essence of events in the Middle East and North Africa.”

“If we shy away from discussing them, we’ll only drive the problem deeper and deeper,” Lavrov says.

“So, there’s still much work ahead of us along the way towards convening the conference,” he says. “Still there are grounds to believe that only the presence of good will and the genuine willingness of all the ‘external players’ to help peaceful settlement of the crisis will make the (Geneva-2) conference possible.”

From his angle of view, “it is important to cast away the calculus that some external playing are still harboring, namely, that the conference flops or fails to take place altogether, as this would enable them to start claiming again there are no ways of stopping the bloodshed than the use of force.

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