Moscow: Geneva Conference to Be held in July, Brahimi: Political Solution to Crisis in Syria is the only solution
Jun 5, 2013
A tripartite meeting including Russia, the United States and the United Nations started in Geneva on Wednesday to further the preparations for the international conference on Syria.
AFP said that the meeting encompasses Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
Brahimi is accompanied by UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.
The meeting aims at discussing preparations to hold an international conference on Syria which was called “Geneva2” and would include representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, agreed early in May to hold an international conference on Syria in Geneva.
Gatilov: International Conference Won’t Be Held Before July
In statements to the press after the preparatory meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that the international conference on Syria will not be held before July, but a second consultative meeting to prepare for it will be held in June.
Gatilov said the conference will be held after agreement is reached over all issues related to it, and that the issues that still need to be discussed will be addressed in a second tripartite meeting between Russia, the UN and the US.
Gatilov said that the tripartite talks in Geneva between Russia, US and UN on Wednesday have reached no agreement as to the list of participants in Geneva 2, indicating that the issue of the participants in the conference remains the most intricate sticking point.
”Contrary to the Syrian government, the opposition has not yet decided officially whether it will take part in the conference…Another important point is that the opposition does not have a clear vision as regards its delegation,” said Gatilov.
”Opposition groups tend to be inclined to have individual representation with different agendas, that’s what makes it a complicated matter,” he said, indicating that ”Our partners, especially the Americans, have to exert efforts to convince the opposition to form a unified delegation. Otherwise, numerous opposition delegations will attend the conference.”
Bogdanov: The West Started to See Only Exit for Syria Is Political Dialogue
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said there is a change in the stance of the West on the crisis in Syria which started to realize that the only exist from the crisis is the political dialogue.
“I think that over more than two years of war, the eyes of many of them opened to see it is a bloody dead-end with no exit but through starting political dialogue between the Syrians themselves with our support,” Bogdanov said in an interview with the Russian Interfax news agency.
Bogdanov is representing Moscow to the tripartite consultations between Russia, the US and the UN on Syria due to be held in the UN headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday.
He said that the discussions will focus on the participation of the Syrian government and the opposition in the upcoming international conference on Syria, noting that he and Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov will meet representatives of the Syrian opposition in Geneva.
Bogdanov clarified that the preparatory meeting will mainly discuss the list of participants and the level of representation to the international conference.
“The international parties agreed that there shouldn’t be any preconditions regarding the participation of the Syrian government and the opposition in the conference,” he said, pointing out that there could be a unified delegation for the opposition or several delegations in case the opposition failed to agree on a list of representatives.
Bogdanov noted that Moscow is waiting for Washington to clarify its stance with regard to Iran’s participation in the international conference on Syria.
“Tomorrow we will listen to our American partners, and it is natural that we will present the logical basics behind our stance that are in support of the participation of Iran and some other regional players,” Bogdanov told the reporters Tuesday evening.
He cited Egypt and some Gulf states and neighboring countries of Syria as the countries which Russia would like them to attend the conference.
“Some other states from the Arab and Islamic world might join the conference such as Algeria for instance,” he added.
Answered a question on the possibility that exporting S-300 missiles to Syria could negatively affect Russia’s relations with Israel, Bogdanov said “What regards Israel was reviewed during Netanyahu’s visit to Russia.”
“Contacts are still underway, and I believe that we should understand each other and hope that there will be understanding from the Israeli side,” he added.
Asked on the Israeli officials’ statements which said that Israel “knows what it will do” if Syria received S-300 missiles, Bogdanov said “The Israeli prime minister has corrected his ministers’ position.”
Netanyahu had previously given orders to the Israeli officials not to comment on the issue of exporting S-300 missiles to Syria.
On the issue of chemical weapons use in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gatilov said Moscow doubts the possibility that the UN experts could conduct a rapid investigation into reports that chemical weapons have been used in the course of the crisis in Syria.
“The issue on the chemical weapons is politicized to a very large extent that there could be no hope that anything concerning the experts’ evaluation could happen soon,” Gatilov said in statements in Geneva.
He noted that the prospects of conducting such investigation fell to second place due to the preparation to hold the international conference on Syria.
As for investigation into relevant news on confiscating chemical materials in Turkey that were bound to the Syrian opposition, Gatilov said “This is unlikely right now because sending experts from the UN to Turkey requires its government’s approval.”
He noted that Russia will not raise the issue of the US’s plans to deploy Patriot missile systems during today’s meeting, adding however that the reports on deployment of Patriot missiles would complicate the situation, “which is why we should talk about the need to start the political process.”
Brahimi: Political Solution to Crisis in Syria is the only solution
For his part, the UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi described the discussions of Geneva meeting as constructive, adding “additional positive steps were realized to hold the international conference as participants underlined that the political solution to the crisis in Syria is the only one.”
“It is not possible to hold the international conference in June, it would be held in July,” Brahimi said at a press conference following the meeting.
“We are holding the necessary preparations to convene the conference.. I am very happy of the nature of constructive talks run today,” he said.
Brahimi added that the crisis in Syria should come to an end for the sake of Syria and its people.
“We will intensify work during the two coming weeks and we will meet here on June 25th.. we agreed that Geneva conference will be convened under the patronage of the UN Secretary General, Russia and the US,” Brahimi said.
He noted that the aim of the conference is to achieve a political solution to the crisis in Syria through a comprehensive agreement between the Syrian government and “the opposition” to carry out Geneva Communiqué issued on June 30th, 2012.
“The situation in Syria is tragic and I believe it is embarrassing for us not to hold this conference,” Brahimi added.
Gatilov: Issue of Chemical Weapons Politicized to Very High Degree
Earlier, Gatilov said that Moscow doubts that UN experts can conduct a fast investigation of reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, stressing that the issue of chemical weapons is politicized to a very high degree, and that the prospect of investigating this issue has become secondary to preparing the international conference.
Gatilov added that it’s likewise unlikely that investigation will be conducted over the chemical weapons bound for armed groups in Syria which were confiscated in Turkey.
He also said that Russia will not discuss the UN plans to deploy Patriot missile systems during the preparatory conference, adding that the reports on sending Patriot missiles complicate the situation.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich criticized plans to deploy Patriot missile systems in the neighboring countries of Syria, including Jordan, after such systems were deployed in Turkey.