MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Thursday against the threat of terrorism from war-torn Syria and claimed Russia had played its part in paving the way for negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict there.
“As I have already said, we have accomplished our part of the work,” Lavrov told journalists after meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York. “The regime is ready to send a delegation without any preconditions. Now it’s up to the opposition.”
Lavrov said previously that Russia’s Western partners had taken responsibility for getting the opposition to attend without preconditions the proposed international conference on Syria, known as Geneva 2. That conference is designed to be a follow-up to last summer’s international meeting in Geneva that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria.
No dates have yet been set for the Geneva 2 conference, Middle East Monitor reported. US Secretary of State John Kerry said in July that it could take place in September at the earliest.
Lavrov warned against further delaying the conference on Syria first proposed back in May by Russia – which has backed the Syrian government – and the US, which has pledged support for the opposition.
“The longer we drag out this issue, the clearer the need becomes to focus our attention on the fight against terrorism,” Lavrov said.
“Terrorists on the ground are really putting pressure on the [opposition] Free Syrian Army, sometimes entering into clashes and skirmishes with it, just as they do with the government forces,” he said. “This is a common threat both for those who currently support the Syrian government, and for those who want to keep Syria a secular, multi-faith, multi-ethnic state, but believe that the regime must go.”
Lavrov added that the UN Geneva communiqué dated June 30, 2012, which called for a political solution to the conflict led by Syria itself in the form of a transitional government, contained “the only sensible and viable way out of the situation.”
More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since fighting broke out between government forces and rebel groups in March 2011, the UN secretary-general said last month.