Russia doubts mid-November date for Syria peace talks

MOSCOW Tue Oct 1, 2013 12:35pm EDT

1 of 2. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to the United Nations Security Council after it unanimously voted in favor of a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting at the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia expressed doubt on Tuesday that Western nations can persuade Syrian opposition representatives to take part in an international peace conference in time for it to take place in mid-November.

The doubts of Damascus's most important ally followed remarks in which the international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the target date of mid-November was "not 100 percent certain" and cited disunity among rebel forces.

"Until recently we hoped our Western partners, who undertook to bring the opposition to the conference, could do it quite quickly, but they were unable to do it quickly, and I don't know whether they will be able to do so by mid-November," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

A pledge by the Syrian government to abandon chemical arms has increased prospects for the peace conference, proposed by Russia and the United States in May, to go ahead.

U.N. Security Council powers hope it can be held in mid-November. Lavrov said it must be organized soon since "radicals and jihadists are strengthening their positions" in Syria.

"The task is to not lose any more time, and to bring to the negotiating table with the government those opposition groups that ... think not about creating a caliphate in Syria or just seizing power and using it at their will, but about the fate of their country," Lavrov said after meeting Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Lavrov also called into question the thoroughness of a U.N. chemical weapons mission after suggesting that it had not examined a site outside of Aleppo where Russia and the Syrian government say rebel forces likely used chemical weapons.

"The commission recently returned (to Syria) and already announced that it finished its work and is returning to New York," said Lavrov.

"As far as I understand, they examined several more places where there are claims chemical weapons were used near Damascus. And as before, the commission did not travel to the outskirts of Aleppo, where a serious incident of the use of chemical weapons occurred on March 19."

Syrian rebels blame Assad's government for that attack.

Russian experts visited the location earlier this year and took samples of material from the site that were later analyzed at a Russian laboratory certified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Russia's U.N. envoy said previously.

The site was one of the places covered in the U.N. committee's mandate. "And so we want to understand whether the mission's report will be complete or incomplete," Lavrov said, "considering that this mission was not able to visit all the locations named in its initial mandate."

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage/Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (7)
TomMariner wrote:
These guys are so predictable. Aha, now that we have the action stopped, by setting up “talks”, it’s time to delay those forever. Not forever — there is literally a bomb ticking in Iran, and those nukes in the hands of fanatical religious leaders will stop the talks on every subject.

The current Administration is hoping the big flash of light does not happen until after Inauguration Day 2017 so they can avoid blame. But until the big boom, yeah, Russia, let’s delay for our client states — hey you were buddies with the war machine in Germany in the 1930′s so they wouldn’t attack you.

Oct 01, 2013 7:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
westernshame wrote:
TomMariner wrote:

“These guys are so predictable. Aha, now that we have the action stopped, by setting up “talks”, it’s time to delay those forever…. But until the big boom, yeah, Russia, let’s delay for our client states…”

i have to agree, the US government and western world are so predictable…. i think you have misinterpreted this story and who is actually delaying the peace process.

for over a year and a half now the Assad government, backed by Russia has agreed to attend all proposed peace talks and negotiations. it is in fact the terrorist rebels, backed by the US, west, Saudi, Qatar that have flat out refused to have any part in these negotiations.

so i’d say Russia is right to question whether the west “can” (or is even trying to) bring the opposition to peace talks.

Oct 01, 2013 7:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
wingding19999 wrote:
what rebel leaders, what civil war? Wasn’t this all taken care of by our pals the Russians? Let’s move on to the next crises du jour.

Oct 01, 2013 9:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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