Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 21:54 GMT

Lavrov offers Russia as platform for Syrian dialogue

Publisher Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Publication Date 20 February 2013
Cite as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Lavrov offers Russia as platform for Syrian dialogue, 20 February 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/513dd1b51c.html [accessed 23 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

February 20, 2013

By RFE/RL

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at his press conference on January 23.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at his press conference on January 23.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is still prepared to act as a platform for talks between Syria's government and the opposition.

Lavrov's comments came on February 20 after a meeting of the first session of the Russia-Arab Forum in Moscow.

He said Russia and Arabic countries are working to bring the two Syrian sides to the negotiating table and emphasized it is important the Syrian factions "do not lay down conditions" prior to talks.

The Russian foreign minister said if the current situation in Syria continued, it would lead to the destruction of the country.

"It is time to end this two-year conflict. Neither party can afford a military solution because this is a path to nowhere, a path toward mutual extermination among the people," Lavrov said.

But Lavrov sounded an optimistic note, saying there appeared to be movement from supporters of Syria's opposition to prod the rebel leadership to the negotiating table.

"Until recently, there were those who discouraged the opposition from engaging in such a dialogue [with the government]. Now, as I understand, the situation is changing, and it is very important that the readiness of Syrian opposition leaders for dialogue be confirmed by the government, that it is also ready for dialogue," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also pointed to the "need for a leading role" for the Arab League in resolving the Syrian crisis.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby was in Moscow for the forum and said Russia's influence with the Syrian government was key to mediating a solution to the two-year-old conflict.

The conflict in Syria shows no sign of abating.

Syrian government forces earlier this week launched a Scud missile at an area in Aleppo occupied by opposition forces. The explosion caused several buildings to collapse and killed some 30 people.

The UN estimates some 70,000 people have been killed since violence started in March 2011 and that there about 4 million people inside the country who are in desperate need of aid.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax

Link to original story on RFE/RL website

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