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Russia, US, UN diplomats to gather in Geneva again

November 25, 2013, 1:52 UTC+3 GENEVA
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GENEVA, November 25, 1:30 /ITAR-TASS/. The diplomats of Russia and the United States, and UN representatives will gather in Switzerland again on Monday to discuss preparation for a Geneva-2 international conference on Syria. The RF will be represented at talks in the Palace of Nations -- which houses the European Office of the UN -- by Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov.

The US delegation will be led by Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Lakdar Brahimi, joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, will take part in the trilateral meeting on UN behalf.

Over the past six months, there were already three rounds of consultations among the same officials. The latest one was held on November 5. Participants in that round failed to coordinate all the positions, just as was the case at the two previous rounds in June, or come to terms as to a date and procedure for the holding of the forum which is called upon to launch a peaceful settlement process in Syria. The following two main aspects still hinder that: a format in which the oppositon will be represented and which countries must be invited.

One of the main divergences of opinion is whether Iran should be invited. Russia considers this aspect a principled one while the US and Western countries adhere to the opposite position. However, considering the historic agreement reached in Geneva on Sunday between Iran and the Sextet (five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany) on Tehran's nuclear programme, the situation may change. It is not fortuitous that Sergei Lavrov emphasized, "I hope that the agreement will have a fruitful effect on the efforts towards settling the Syrian problem and drawing Iran into constructive work together with all of us with a view to holding a Geneva-2 conference".

It is also worthwhile to recall that Moscow had earlier come forward with an initiative to host a meeting of various opposition organizations, and also invite the National Coalition to it. Lavrov said such a proposal must be viewed within the context of the Russian policy line towards "helping the opposition and and the Americans to prevail upon the opposition in aspects concerning the formation of a constructive platform without pre-conditions". The Minister added that "signs of an incresing realism" actually begin to manifest themselves among the coalitionists".

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