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Inter-Syrian dialogue needs to be enlarged to make it truly representative -- FM

PETROPAVLOVSK KAMCHATSKY, January 25, /ITAR-TASS/. The dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition needs to be enlarged to make it truly representative, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We cannot assume all responsibility for what is happening. We are working together with the Americans and the United Nations. We are also being helped by the other three permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - China, France and Great Britain - and Arab countries to the extent to which they can influence the situation,” Lavrov told Sergei Brilev’s Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday) television programme on January 25.

“Naturally, the Russian-American initiative galvanised these efforts because the situation was getting out of control before it was put forth. But having spoken firmly in favour of convening such a conference [on Syria in Geneva], the Russian-American duet demonstrated its readiness to prod all our partners into supporting this initiative,” he said.

“As a result, we brought together those who came to Montreux today [January 22], although I have already said that this is not the whole spectrum of Syrian society and that this is only the first step. This process has to be expanded, the dialogue has to be enlarged to make the process truly representative,” Lavrov said.

“The fact that more than eight months have passed since the Russian-American initiative was put forth on May 7, 2013, indicates that even with the political will of Moscow and Washington things are not moving as fast as we would like,” he said.

Lavrov warned against attempts to force a settlement plan upon the sides and stressed that they should look for compromises themselves.

“We are pushing the Syrians towards negotiating an agreement. This may sound quite native, but there is no other way to do it,” he said. “The sides can be influenced and nudged towards sitting at the negotiating table and looking for compromises not just waiting out their time,” Lavrov said.

“There is no way we can come up with some plan and put it on the table, like point one: someone is to leave; point two; someone is to come. This would be social engineering that has so far done no good anywhere,” he said.

Lavrov noted that the Geneva communique “does not say anything about someone having to go. It says that Syrians themselves should agree to an acceptable composition and parameters of the transitional period on its basis.”

Another important point in the communique is that it preserves existing Syrian institutions, including the army and security services, after the settlement. “Everyone says that Syria will slide into chaos if changing the regime were set as the only goal to achieve, as some are trying to do. There is already enough chaos there. But in this case things would simply avalanche to a complete collapse, which no one wishes to see happening. Everyone understands that order must be maintained, and there is another way to do this but preserve existing institutions,” he said.