MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow hopes that upcoming three-way talks will result in an agreement that will help end Syria’s two-year civil war, a senior Russian official said on Tuesday, as the issue of Syria opened up a chasm between Russia and the West at the ongoing G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
“We hope that we will be able to reach compromise solutions that will help start the process of a political settlement [in Syria],” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said, referring to a Russia-US-UN meeting on Syria due to be held in Geneva on June 25.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s position on Tuesday that it is not pursuing its own geopolitical aims in Syria.
“We are not interfering in Syria’s internal disagreements, we are not imposing any ready-made solutions on anybody,” he said in an interview with Kuwaiti news agency Kuna. “It is essential to help the Syrians move from armed conflict to dialogue.”
The Russian ministers’ statements came as Russian President Vladimir Putin clashed with the West over Syria at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. Putin reportedly resisted attempts by the other state leaders to produce a G8 communique suggesting that Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down, resulting in what a Reuters news agency source described as a “seven to one position on Syria” against Putin.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that Russia would issue a separate statement on the use of chemical weapons in Syria as an attachment to the G8 joint declaration.
Russia and the US agreed last month during a visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State John Kerry to convene an international conference on Syria to try and resolve the conflict there. Next week’s talks are part of preparations for that conference, a date for which has not yet been set.
According to the latest UN data, more than 90,000 people have now been killed in Syria since fighting broke out in March 2011 between government forces and rebels.
Updated with new lede and paragraphs 5-6 to add context of G8 talks and Ryabkov’s statement.