Syria opp. can’t set conditions for talks: Russia

Syria opp. can’t set conditions for talks: Russia
Tue Jun 18, 2013 21:52:55

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Syria’s foreign-backed opposition should not be permitted to set preconditions for participating in the upcoming Geneva 2 conference.

In remarks published on Russian Foreign Ministry website on Tuesday, Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s stance that the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot be a precondition for the peace talks.

Russia and the United States agreed on May 7 in Moscow to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.

Later in May, Syria opposition bloc, known as the National Coalition, said it would not attend the Geneva 2 meeting unless a deadline is set to force President Assad to step down as a settlement to the Syrian issue.

They even said later that they won’t participate unless they receive more arms from their supporters to first compensate their losses in the war and then go for talks.

The Russian minister further said, “We categorically oppose ... affirmations that the conference should become a kind of public act of capitulation by the government delegation, with the subsequent handover of power in Syria to the opposition.”

He added that the Syrian government has agreed to attend the conference and formed a negotiating team, which will be headed by Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.

“With the opposition it is more difficult,” he said, adding that the opposition’s calls for the removal of President Assad are not in line with efforts to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis.

UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on June 7 that the event might be held in July. The talks had originally been planned to be held in June.

Foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria has taken its toll on the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, since the turmoil erupted in March 2011.

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