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Russia says Syria talks must not focus solely on transition
February 14, 2014 / 7:56 AM / 4 years ago

Russia says Syria talks must not focus solely on transition

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”.

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

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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