US set to bring Syrian Opposition to Geneva: Lavrov

US set to bring Syrian Opposition to Geneva: Lavrov
Sun Sep 15, 2013 13:50:16

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the United States would continue its diplomatic efforts to bring Syrian opposition forces to a planned international peace conference in Geneva.

The Russian foreign minister said in an interview aired by Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday that US Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the intention to work with the opposition, so that it stopped rejecting the idea of the conference and go to Geneva.

Lavrov said the conference would also be attended by “other opposition forces, including those who have never left Syria and expressed their protest in the country, not from abroad.”

He said the US would also seek to persuade its allies who have not shown a cooperative stance toward the conference to take part as well.

Speaking about Russian-US dialog on Syria, Lavrov said presidents of the two states have agreed to regularly exchange information and estimates of Syria’s chemical stockpiles.

He assured that Damascus gave written guarantees that even before officially joining the treaty, it would observe provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention without preconditions.

“The main step that allowed us to prepare all documents for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) so promptly was made by Damascus… Americans say it was done only under the threat of the use of force. This is non-essential to us. What is important is that Damascus announced joining the convention for the prohibition of chemical weapons, unambiguously and without any preconditions,” the Russian diplomat said.

Russia is “absolutely certain” that last month’s chemical weapons attack near Syrian capital was fabricated to provoke a foreign military strike, he said.

Washington has accused the Syrian government of being behind the August 21 attack, and has threatened airstrikes against government targets in retaliation.

Moscow fiercely opposes military action and maintains that the attacks were carried out by Syrian rebel fighters, with Russian President Vladimir Putin cacallinglled the US accusations "unimaginable nonsense."

According to Russia’s top diplomat, the attack was carried out by “bad people, who used chemical warfare agents in this or that way, in our opinion, aiming mainly to provoke a foreign military strike as a punishment for the regime”.

After weeks of intense diplomacy and an almost three-day-long marathon of talks in Geneva between Lavrov and Kerry, Moscow and Washington reached a breakthrough agreement on Saturday.

The deal stipulates that Damascus will submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons within a week, that weapons inspectors will be on the ground in Syria by November, and that all the country’s weapons will be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014, Kerry said.


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