Lavrov doubts Syria opposition presence in talks

Lavrov doubts Syria opposition presence in talks
Tue Oct 1, 2013 14:16:48

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in Geneva-2 peace conference.

Speaking at a Tuesday press conference in Moscow, Lavrov stressed that this needs to happen and suggested that getting “rational members” of the opposition on board is a priority.

He said there is still a lack of clarity regarding who will participate in the anticipated peace talks, calling it "a big problem."

Lavrov confirmed that a substantial number of the opposition’s commanders have broken free of Syrian National Coalition control.

“While this whole business drags on, the radical, Jihadist elements of the opposition, like al-Nusra Front and others, are gaining in strength.”

The current issue we are faced with is “not to waste any more time,” Lavrov added.

The success of the conference rests in the hands of those “who hold bigger sway with the opposition [than Russia]… We work with everyone, but the bigger influence on the opposition is exerted by our Western colleagues and key Middle Eastern states,” the FM stressed.

Lavrov also discussed the matter of investigating the source of March’s chemical weapons attack near Aleppo.

“We are working on the assumption that the August 21 incident was not an isolated one, which is up to Ake Sellstrom’s team of UN inspectors to determine.”

Syria's pledge to abandon its chemical arsenal has rekindled hopes that an international conference proposed by Russia and the United States in May could materialize, and UN Security Council powers hope it can be held in mid-November.

Meanwhile, Commander of so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) Qassem Saadeddine claimed in Paris that a resolution ordering the elimination of Syria's chemical arms is "a disgrace for the United Nations and it’s scandalous".


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