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Extremist groups cause problems in Syria – Russian FM

February 17, 2014, 16:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday blamed extremist groups for problems in Syria

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MOSCOW, February 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday blamed extremist groups for problems in Syria.

“As for statements that the United States will increase their pressure on Damascus: if political pressure is meant, then we have always supported the United States in working directly with the Syrian authorities,” Lavrov said.

“I have spoken about that with [US Secretary of State] John Kerry, including his calls to influence the [Syrian] regime to make it easier to deal with regarding many things, be it the humanitarian situation in different parts of the country or the talks in Geneva,” he said.

“First of all, we work daily with the Syrian authorities, and second, statistics show that these problems are not created by the regime but by extremist groups, which have spawned in Syria in great numbers and which do not obey any political opposition structure,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“I have recalled many times that at last year’s summit [in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland], the G8 leaders called on the government and opposition to unite in the fight against terrorists who have infested Syria,” he said.

The first round of the Geneva-2 international peace conference on Syria was held in January and ended with no substantive results. The parties to the Syrian conflict resumed talks on February 10, but the second round of intra-Syrian talks, which ended in Geneva on Saturday, February 15, brought no progress either. The sides are set to continue their discussions.

Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States, seeks to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011.

The position of the Syrian government delegation during the second round was that the fight against terrorism should be discussed at the talks first and a transitional governing body later. But the Syrian opposition insisted the transitional government issue, mentioned in the Geneva Communique, should top the discussion agenda.

The Geneva Communique was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an “action group” on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as “Geneva-1.” Geneva-2 is its logical continuation.

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