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US Under Secretary of State to discuss Geneva II, Iran in Moscow

January 10, 2014, 10:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW

These issues will also be in the focus at the upcoming meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

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U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman

U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman


MOSCOW, January 10. /ITAR-TASS/. U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will hold consultations in Moscow on Friday, January 10, to discuss the preparation of the international conference on Syria known as Geneva II and the implementation of agreements on Iran.

Sherman will come to Moscow from Geneva where she was scheduled to meet with European External Action Service Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid and with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi to discuss the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by the P5+1 and Iran.

Tehran’s participation in the conference will also be on the agenda.

These issues will be in the focus at the upcoming meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris on January 13.


Iran may influence on Syrian peace process

Lavrov believes that Iran could have positive influence on the situation in Syria.

“We are worried about the situation in Syria and around it,” the minister said. “We call for an end to the bloodshed and believe that Syrians themselves should agree on the future of their country without external interference.”

He thinks, however, that external players can help the peace process in Syria. “Iran should be included in this circle. I believe it would be fundamentally important to invite Iran to Geneva II (conference on Syria),” Lavrov said.

“For the Geneva conference to be a success, it should be attended by all those who can influence the situation and who already influence it. It is important to bring all of them together in order to create a team of like-minded people so that the influence on the developments in Syria that has been exerted by many people and many countries were used to stop the bloodshed,” the minister said.

“Naturally, Iran is among those who can have positive influence on the developments in Syria... only Syrians themselves can determine the fate of their country, while external players should motivate them to do so, not try to impose some unviable schemes, not to interfere in the Syrian’s dialogue but to encourage them to continue the talks until they come to agreement,” Lavrov said.


London 11 meeting

Sherman will join Secretary Kerry in Paris on January 12 for the ministerial meeting of the London 11 to coordinate with key international partners on Syria in advance of the Geneva II conference. She will also join Secretary Kerry’s meeting with Minister Lavrov and hold bilateral consultations with participants of the London 11, the State Department said.

This year’s first talks between Lavrov and Kerry will be preceded by a ministerial meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria Group in Paris on January 12. External actors and sponsors influencing the Syrian opposition have so far received no clear agreement from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents to attend Geneva II or sound arguments against it.

Moscow regretted the fact that the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces “continues to put forth additional conditions for its participation in the international conference Geneva II, thus trying to predetermine its outcome.”

“We are still convinced that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Its commencement without preconditions on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland, is called upon to put the speediest end to any violence and bloodshed in Syria.”


Syrian opposition and Geneva II

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, 2013, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold an international conference on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué 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.

If the international conference on Syria known as Geneva II is attended only by the Syrian opposition from abroad, the forum will be useless, Lavrov said earlier.

“For the conference to take place, and we want it to open on January 22 (2014) as has been agreed and as has been announced by the U.N. Secretary-General, we must understand who will sit across the table from the government. If these are the people who represent the part of the opposition abroad and who have no influence on the opponents of the regime inside Syria, such conference will be of little use,” the minister said.

“We do not want the talks to be profaned. We do not want the people who will sit across the table from the government to be unable to bear responsibility for their words later. It’s a critical stage. Our Western colleagues who have taken the National Coalition under their wing and who are advancing it as the main speaker for the opposition’s aspirations, they must be responsible for the approaches with which this group will come to Geneva and for whom it will actually represent there,” Lavrov said.

“The opposition should be represented at a proper level in its entirety, not by one group, the legal capacity of which raises big questions, given the mess and confusion within it, as well as its thrashing around when it comes to Geneva II (international conference),” the minister said.

“The National Coalition (for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces) is not the only mechanism of the Syrian opposition,” the minister said. “The Coalition consists mainly of people who emigrated from Syria to Europe and other countries a long time ago. They are now concerned with working out their position because apart from changing the regime they have no constructive platform to offer to the Syrian population.”

“We have no doubt that the opposition groups that have always worked inside Syria — the National Coordination Committee and Kurdish organizations — should be at the conference,” he said.

The date of the conference was announced in November 2013 and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent invitations to participants on January 6, 2014. However, the Syrian opposition has so far not announced the line-up of its delegation.

On January 7, media reports said that the National Coalition would consider the question of its participation in Geneva II on January 17. Over the past several days, six blocks and several independent members have left the National Coalition, which minimizes the chances of having a single delegation at the conference.

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 communiqué, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012.

The communiqué 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.

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