Russia, West divided on Iran role in Syria settlement

PIONERSKY (Kaliningrad region, Russia), June 6 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow insists that all countries with any influence on the situation in Syria, including Iran, should attend an international peace conference despite Western nations opposing this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

“At this stage our partners are rather categorically against Iran’s participation,” he said at a news conference. “We consider that a mistake.”

Lavrov urged the world community to decide whose side it is on – those pushing for regime change in Syria or those ready for “inter-Syrian dialog.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Wednesday the main obstacle to talks between Russia, the United States and the United Nations on resolving the conflict in Syria is that the Syrian opposition has not decidedwhether it will attend an international peace conference.

Russia, the UN and the US have so far failed to agree on whether Iran and Saudi Arabia would be able to participate in the conference, Gatilov said.

International envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said after the talks that the conference could be held in July.

Lavrov announced in early May, after a Moscow meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, that the two countries had decided to hold an international conference aimed at facilitating a solution through political dialogue to the Syrian crisis, in which more than 80,000 people have died since fighting broke out between government forces and rebels in March 2011.

The conference is designed to be a follow-up to last summer’s international meeting in Geneva that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria.

By Ria Novosti


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