Iranian involvement, Assad's future are key stumbling blocks of Geneva-2 - Margelov
"The stubborn insistence of the Syrian opposition on the mandatory resignation of President Bashar al-Assad reminds me of the irreconcilable attitude of the opponents of M. Gaddafi. I was entrusted with a difficult mediation mission and visited Benghazi and Tripoli in the midst of the Libyan events. The miscellaneous opposition in Benghazi invariably replied to any settlement proposals that Gaddafi must leave before the negotiations could start," Margelov said.
Now the opposition in Syria is equally united in its personal dislike for President Assad, he said.
"Nevertheless, all reconciliation initiatives made during a war, especially, a civil war, require serious diplomatic efforts," he said.
"Although Syrian opposition [forces] cannot be brought together as a single delegation to the conference even by their main sponsor, the United States, we still hope for a meeting between Syrian opposition members in Istanbul on November 8," Margelov said.
"But this is not the only stumbling block on the way to the Geneva-2 conference," he added.
The parliament member referred to media reports, which said that US, UN and Russian representatives devoted time to the Iranian participation in the conference in their many-hour debates at the UN Geneva headquarters.
"Once again the problem of the Iranian involvement has actually prevented the tripartite meeting. In contrast to Russia, the United States categorically objects to Iranian attendance at the conference. But this does not mean that the preparations for Geneva-2 has stopped," Margelov concluded.
Russia's Permanent Envoy in the UN Vitaly Churkin has said that Russia is viewing possible ways of its participation in the operation of eliminating Syrian chemical weapons. However, he added that Russia will not participate directly in the elimination of poisonous substances.
Earlier, the head of a joint mission of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons Sigrid Kaag held a briefing in the UN Security Council.
She said that the operation of eliminating the Syrian chemical weapons is going on according to schedule. The Syrian authorities are ready to cooperate with the UN inspectors. However, access to regions of Syria that are controlled by the opposition is sometimes difficult.
Mr. Churkin says that he is satisfied with the results of the briefing.
A proposal to destroy the Syrian chemical weapons outside the country put forward by the Syrian authorities seems to be the most practical one, OPCW head Ahmet Üzümcü stated on Tuesday.
“A proposal to destroy chemical weapons outside Syria seems to be the most practical variant,” he said.
Üzümcü also added the Syrian authorities’ plan was based on “difficulties emerging during the destruction of chemical weapons amidst an armed conflict”.
“The destruction of Category 3 chemical weapons /unfilled munitions/ will be continued in November. Besides, the destruction of special equipment and demolition of plants for manufacturing, mixing and filling munitions will be carried out,” he said.
All in all, activities on destroying unfilled chemical weapons munitions are carried out at seven sites in Syria.
Syria announced its decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention in September and handed over data on its chemical weapons arsenal to the OPCW and UN.
Russia felt that the United States does not have sufficient leverage to consolidate the Syrian opposition, said Gennady Gatilov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister according to the results of the trilateral meeting of Russia-US-UN in preparation of an international conference on Syria.
"We felt that the US does not have enough leverage to consolidate the opposition "- Gatilov said, adding that there is still no clarity on the participation of Syrian opposition in the conference, a preparatory meeting will be held in the new Russia-US-UN format on November 25.
World powers failed Tuesday to set a date for a hoped-for Syria peace conference in Geneva, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said after meeting with senior diplomats.
"We were hoping that we'd be in a position to announce a date today, unfortunately we're not," Brahimi told reporters.
"But we're still hoping that we'll be able to have the conference before the end of the year," he said, adding he would meet again with US and Russian envoys on November 25.
The Geneva-2 peace conference won’t take place earlier than December, a source close to trilateral consultations in the Russia-US-UN format held behind closed doors at the UN headquarters in Geneva today, has informed.
“The conference will take place not earlier that December,” the source said.
Russian, American and UN mediators have come to Geneva as part of the effort to outline the framework of the upcoming Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria, Voice of Russia’s correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.
The meeting kicked off Tuesday at the Palace of Nations, which houses the UN headquarters in Switzerland, with the participants expected to set an exact date of long-awaited Syria dialogue.
Representing Russia are two deputy foreign ministers, Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov. The US delegation is headed by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, accompanied by Washington-based US Ambassador for Syria Robert Ford, who was recalled from Damascus in February 2012.
Famous UN and Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is to speak on behalf of United Nations. Mr. Brahimi will also have the honor of hosting the trilateral meeting.
The ongoing meet-up is the third round of preparation talks in the run-up to the Geneva-2 conference, after the previous assemblies failed to overcome the impasse on who will represent the Syrian opposition and what nations are to be invited to the negotiating table.
Today’s trialogue will test the mediators’ commitment to push through the peace conference despite the breaker topics that capsized the earlier talks.
In the afternoon, the three negotiators will be joined by the rest of UN Security Council members, including the UK, China and France. Later on, the circle of mediators will be expanded by Arab states that border on Syria – Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey, who have been housing the majority of some 2 million of Syrian refugees.
Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax, AFP