Russia says Syria talks must not focus solely on transition

MOSCOW Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:48am EST

People walk on the rubble of damaged buildings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Masaken Hanano in Aleppo February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Saad Abobrahim

People walk on the rubble of damaged buildings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Masaken Hanano in Aleppo February 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Abobrahim

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian peace talks must not focus solely on the creation of a transitional governing body, Russia's foreign minister said on Friday, accusing backers of the opposition for pushing for "regime change".

As the second round of talks in Geneva entered its final day, Sergei Lavrov suggested that the opposition and its Western and Arab backers were trying to derail the negotiations.

"We have the impression that when those who ensured opposition participation in this process were calling for talks to focus on delivering on the Geneva Communiqué in its full, in fact they meant regime change," Lavrov said, referring to a document that resulted from the first round of talks.

"Because all they want to talk about is creating a transitional governing body," he said at a joint news conference after talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

His remarks once again signaled Moscow's support for President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has resisted discussion of a transitional body and wants to focus on combating "terrorism" - Assad's term for rebel forces.

The Syria talks are seeking an end to a three-year civil war based on the June 2012 Geneva Communiqué.

That document calls for a peace process that would include the creation of transitional government body formed by mutual consent of the Syrian government and opposition.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Alexandra Hudson; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (1)
kafantaris wrote:
The Syrian government officials need to understand that there are real and grave consequences to pursuing the status quo. And they need look no further than the end of Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Change will come one way or another in Syria, but it’s better for them if it comes from within.
Too much blood has spilled for things to go back to the way they were.

Feb 14, 2014 6:39am EST  --  Report as abuse
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