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Russia calls for determining date of new round of Syria talks in Geneva

May 15, 2014, 21:21 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Syrian government delegation is ready to come to Geneva, but Russia insists that the opposition delegation should be more representative
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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuyev

MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for determining the date of the third round of Syria talks as soon as possible without wasting time.

“The date of the third round should have been determined a long time ago. We believe that no time should be wasted because this vacuum will be filled by radicals,” Bogdanov said.

“We should continue the negotiation process in Geneva and be patient. Such a large number of contacts between Syrians will develop into a new quality and will help to work out mutually acceptable solutions. We must not lose heart,” he said.

In his opinion, the three weeks assigned for the first two rounds in Geneva were not enough.

The Syrian government delegation is ready to come to Geneva, but Russia insists that the opposition delegation should be more representative to include members of the National Coordination Committee of the internal opposition.

“We are convinced that this work must resume as soon as possible for effective continuation of the Geneva negotiation process. Passivity on the political track results in more deaths and suffering in Syria every day. The Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012 and the practical achievements related to the two rounds of inter-Syrian talks provide an international legal basis for further efforts towards crisis settlement,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Such important potential cannot be ignored, let alone rejected, as there is no alternative to it,” it added.

“Damascus is ready to continue the talks. The Syrian opposition should also be committed to a political solution, not to constant appeals to external sponsors to supply increasingly dangerous types of lethal weapons,” the ministry said.

Russia “will continue to take active steps towards resumption of the Geneva process” and urges “our international partners to join in this work. We hope that the UN efforts to facilitate and support the inter-Syrian talks will continue”, the ministry said.

Sergei Lavrov calls for soonest resuming of talks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the third round of the Syria talks should be held as soon as possible.

“We support the resumption of the Syria talks and believe that their third round must be held as soon as possible. The agenda was approved in principle and we would not like to see any delays there. It is important to prevent Syria from turning into a bridgehead for international extremism and terrorism,” Lavrov said.

Russia calls for the resumption of inclusive Syria talks with the participation of all political forces in society in order to ensure peace on the basis of equal rights for representatives of all national and confessional groups.

“We are committed only to a peaceful settlement in full compliance with the decisions adopted by the UN Security Council and approved at the Geneva process which demanded that the support to terrorists be stopped and that neighboring countries refrain from actions connected with provocations against the chemical disarmament in Syria,” Lavrov said earlier.

Efforts to resume the talks have also been taken by Brahimi who admitted there were serious difficulties in working out an agenda that would yield tangible results in the resolution of the conflict. He requested the assistance of the UN Security Council.

Brahimi urged the UN Security Council to show support for the Syrian talks to make their new round more productive. He said after a closed-door meeting of the Security Council in March that the international community would like to continue the Geneva talks but needed the help and support of the Security Council to ensure that their new round is more productive than the previous two.

Geneva II conference

The first two rounds of the Geneva II conference were held in late January and early February 2014 but yielded no result. Representatives of the Syrian government and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces met at the same table for the first time in three years since the start of civil war in their country but failed to bridge the gap in their positions.

The goal of the international conference on Syria is to achieve a political solution to the three-year-long conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the two sides for the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012, and since endorsed by the UN Security Council.

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.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for renewed political efforts to end what he described as the biggest humanitarian and security crisis in the world.

He believes that “only a political solution will end the nightmare of the Syrian people.” Ban urged Russia and the United States, as the initiating states of the Geneva Conference on Syria, “to take clear steps to re-energize the Geneva process”.

The basis of those talks is full implementation of an action plan adopted in the Geneva Communiqué of 2012, the first international conference on the conflict, which calls for setting up a transitional government that should then lead the country to free and fair elections.

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