Geneva talks: Syria opposition

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says setting a timeline for the long-awaited Geneva II Syria talks has failed so far due to the obstacles created by Syria’s foreign-backed opposition.

November 8, 2013

"We have currently not been able to reach agreements during discussions of practical issues, including the dates and other organizational aspects, primarily because the [Syrian] opposition is not ready to accept invitations to the conference without preconditions," Lavrov said on Friday. 

The Russian official noted that the Syrian opposition has been calling for the ouster of Syrian President Basher al-Assad government before joining the negotiating table, a demand which would be in contrast to former agreements. 

“This contradicts the Russian-US initiative which envisions the convocation of a conference without any preconditions for full fulfillment of the tasks outlined in the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012," he stressed. 

Lavrov criticized the so-called Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces for asserting demands as the only representative of the Syrian people, while failing to represent even a majority of the groups opposing the Assad government. 

Separately, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the opposition coalition had refused to attend an unofficial meeting with the Syrian government officials in Moscow. 

The Russian initiative, Lukashevich said, had “received an active and positive response among a number of opposition group leaders.” 

"Unfortunately, the Syrian National Opposition and individual leaders who consider it a counterproductive ploy are blocking it and refusing to participate," he added. 

The Moscow meeting had been hoped to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Syria, which has been plagued by a deadly conflict fueled by foreign-backed militants. 



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