Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that there’s a change in the US position on Syria, and that Russia and the US are in agreement in that the Syrians must decide their country’s future on their own.
In a press conference following talks with US counterpart Hillary Clinton on Friday, Lavrov said that there’s a chance for finding mutual grounds and finding ways to move forward regarding the settlement of the crisis in Syria during the meeting in Geneva due on Saturday.
Lavrov also underlined the need for continuing the international observers’ mission in Syria and supporting it, adding that there were no talks of final points and stressing that predetermining the fate of any transitional period isn’t constructive.
Russian Foreign Ministry: List of Participants in Geneva Conference on Syria isn’t Optimal
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the list of participants in the Geneva conference on Syria isn’t optima, reiterating its adherence to the position that only Syrians can decide their own destiny.
In a statement, the Ministry said that making the list of invitees to the conference took great labors, with the Russian proposal to this effect being met with insurmountable opposition from the U.S., especially regarding Iran’s participation.
The statement said that the decision Russia had to made wasn’t optimal, as important players such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and Syria’s immediate neighbors Lebanon and Jordan are absent, as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, adding that Russia is making every effort to help end the bloodshed and achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.
The Ministry said that it originally proposed an international conference the first step of which would be consolidating the efforts of external players to create conditions for the implementation of the plan of UN Envoy Kofi Annan by all Syrian parties, which includes a transition from armed confrontation to dialogue and political process.
The statement noted that recent weeks witnessed intensive contact with Annan, the five permanent members of UN Security Council, and a number of states in the region, discussing with them the upcoming conference and the results it may produce, noting that Russia also continued intensive contact with Damascus, including the meeting on June 22nd in St. Petersburg between the foreign ministers of Russia and Syria, in addition to contact with different groups of the Syrian opposition.
The Ministry noted that preparations for the conference showed point of agreement among potential participants as well as serious differences.
The statement affirmed that Russia won’t change its position of principle which states that the Syrians themselves must determine the fate of their country, and that this understanding has been noted during the meeting of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama which was held on the sideline of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
The Foreign Ministry voiced Russia’s serious concern over the situation in Syria, and that the Russian side believes it necessary to agree on mechanisms for achieving a ceasefire and a synchronized withdrawal of government forces and armed opposition groups from Syrian cities and towns under the supervision of the UN Observer Mission.
The statement said that this would create a favorable atmosphere for a quick commencing of a national political dialogue in Syria between the government and all opposition groups, through which the Syrians themselves would determine the agenda and timing of the transition process, adding that these issued must be discussed at the ministerial meeting in Geneva.
The statement concluded by stating that Russia believes that the convening of the forthcoming Geneva meeting is a positive step in the search for opportunities to expand and strengthen the basis of international consensus on the inevitability of a peaceful political settlement in Syria.
Russia, China: Foreign Dictates on Syria Unacceptable
Earlier, Russia and China stressed that imposing foreign dictates on Syria is unacceptable.
Russia Today TV quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying after the meeting between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and the Chinese ambassador in Moscow Li Hui that ”the two sides exchanged views on the situation in Syria ahead of Geneva conference due to be held on June 30.”
“Views were identical concerning imposing foreign dictates on Syria. Emphasis was also laid on the importance of changing the course in Syria from confrontation to national dialogue and political process,” the spokesman added.
Rogozin: Washington Deliberately Caused Media Uproar Over Syrian Helicopters Overhauled by Russia
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the United States deliberately caused a media uproar over the issue of the Syrian helicopters which were overhauled by Russia as per an existing contract between the two countries.
In a radio interview, Rogozin said that his country didn’t sent new combat helicopters to Syria, reiterating that the whole uproar caused by the US is about an old contract upheld by Russia to maintain the helicopters it exported to Syria in the past.
He noted that there are around 400 Russian-made choppers in the armies of countries that recently joined the NATO, and that Russia carries out maintenance for them just like the Syrian helicopters.