29 January 2014, 21:48

Russian, US diplomats agree to help Syrian conflicting parties to continue talks

Russian, US diplomats agree to help Syrian conflicting parties to continue talks

The course of the inter-Syrian dialogue in Geneva has been discussed at a meeting in Moscow between Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports on its website.

"The sides stated that thanks to the energetic and coordinated efforts of Russia and the United States it became possible to ensure the convocation on January 22 of the international conference on Syria in Montreux and launch negotiations between the Syrian parties through the mediation of Special Representative for Syria Brahimi. This attests to the increasing awareness in the world that a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria has no alternative," the statement says.

The Russian side urged the Syrian government and opposition delegations to continue dialogue and work out a common vision of Syria’s future.

"Commitments to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state, unite the Syrians against terrorism, guarantee the rights and safety of all ethnic and regional communities should be its central elements," the ministry said.

The diplomats agreed to maintain permanent contact and assist the Syrian conflicting parties to advance their talks.

Russia, US agree to step up pressure on Syrian negotiating parties – source

Russian and American experts agreed at a bilateral meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to step up pressure on the Syrian government and opposition delegations to the Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria, said a diplomatic source.

"We have discussed in detail the current situation at the inter-Syrian talks and agreed that we need, first, to strengthen cooperation between ourselves and step up pressure on the negotiating parties to interact more actively in searching for a compromise," the source said.

Terrorism issue comes before Syrian transition gov't - Assad's advisor

Syrian President’s advisor Bouthina Shaaban has told reporters that the rival delegations have not discussed a transitional government yet.

Ms. Shaaban, who is on the Syrian government’s delegation, stressed that to move ahead with a transitional government the parties to the peace talks first needed to fix the terrorism problem in Syria.

Answering a question on the progress of Geneva-2 talks, the advisor to President Bashar Assad noted that the government's delegation believed it was more important now to focus on provisions of the Geneva-1 communique.

Syrian rivals inch on transition gov't talks in Geneva

The two rival delegations at the Geneva peace talks have reportedly made first steps towards discussing a transitional government in the war-torn country, opposition National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi said on Wednesday.

Mr. Safi called today’s negotiations a "positive step forward" saying it was the first time the two sides had touched on the framework of a transitional authority.

"We hope to see even more progress in the next few days," the spokesman told journalists today.

Safi said the regime delegation had tried to focus the talks on "issues of terrorism" but was willing to have talks on the framework of political discussions.

"We have not really discussed details, but the general framework for the discussions about the transitional governing body," he said, adding that among the topics would be the size, responsibilities and timeframe of a transitional body.

There was no immediate confirmation of this from the regime delegation or UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Talks between Syrian gov't and opposition delegations resume in Geneva

Delegations of the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition resumed bilateral talks in Geneva on Wednesday in the presence of UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

"A joint meeting between the delegations and the envoy has begun. The sides have again gathered in one room in an attempt to establish dialogue on essential issues," ITAR-TASS reports quoting a source close to the talks.

So far, the process has been faltering with both sides sticking to their positions and making statements revealing deep differences between them.

The Damascus delegation says it's ready to discuss any topics except the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It insists that it's up to the Syrian people to decide whether he should step down.

The opposition cites the Geneva Communique signed on June 30, 2012, which, it claims, stipulates the resignation of Assad and his entourage.

Demanding Assad's resignation is counterproductive - Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the approach of those focusing on the need for Syrian President Assad to resign not constructive.

"The desire to immediately start discussing personalities, like saying that Assad must go and let's talk who will govern Syria, doesn't help [the negotiations]. This is an absolutely counterproductive approach," Lavrov told journalists at a news conference in Brussels.

Lavrov thanked UN/Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi for insisting on "the prevalence of the logic of small steps." Russia is not clinging to Assad as a person, Lavrov said. "We are not friends of Assad's family or any of the high-ranking Syrian leaders. We are friends of the Syrian state," he said. "It's necessary to move step-by-step rather than think about Assad's fate," he said.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, TASS, RIA, AFP


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