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Lavrov: Geneva II key task is to stop violence in Syria, not to have Assad step down

January 28, 2014, 23:43 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

“Russia is backing no particular figures in Syria,” he said

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© ITAR-TASS/Denis Vishinskiy

BRUSSELS, January 28, 22:23 /ITAR-TASS/. The key goal of the Geneva II peace conference on Syria is to stop violence but not to have President Bashar Assad step down, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Tuesday after the Russia-European Union summit.

“Russia is backing no particular figures in Syria,” he said. “We are not friends with Assad or his family. But we are deeply worried over the fact that this country, the cradle of Christianity in the Middle East, is besieged by terrorists and extremists who profess no religion, who plunder and burn monasteries and mosques, who kill the elder, women and children and who are not bound by any norms of humanity.”

“We are confident that it is inadmissible to focus on simplified, primitive demands,” he went on to say. “It is the easiest thing to say that Assad must step down and everything would be all right. But we remember Yugoslavia, where everybody demanded that Milosevic should step down. We watched the development in Iraq, where the same demands were laid to Saddam Hussein. There was Libya and Gaddafi. We see what it all resulted in. Today, we are witnessing an obsession with an idea of changing the regime in Syria, because someone feels personal hatred to Assad. But it is not a behavior of mature people.”

“The key tasks on the Geneva peace conference on Syria is to stop violence, to solve humanitarian problems, to reach a consensus between the government and the opposition on the how they want to rule a tolerant, democratic, free and secure Syria, free from terrorism and extremism,” Lavrov stressed. “They must agree on basic principles of how they want to reform the state.

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