Russian FM to Attend Syria Conference in Geneva

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would attend an international conference on Syria, due June 30 in Geneva.

Lavrov, who was speaking to journalists on Tuesday during a visit to Jordan by a Russian delegation led by President Vladimir Putin, said the final document, to be adopted at the conference, should be considered by foreign ministers rather than by experts.

“I proceed from the assumption that the document should be considered by ministers,” he said.

According to UN estimates, over 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

The UN Security Council has so far failed to find a way to settle the conflict. UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan proposed that the conference should be attended by countries that can influence both Syria’s authorities and opposition, including Iran. A similar idea was earlier put forward by Russia.

Russia – along with China – has twice vetoed UN resolutions against Damascus over what it says is a pro-rebel bias, at the same time backing Annan’s faltering peace plan for Syria.

Lavrov also said Iran should attend the conference, otherwise the participants will not represent all vectors of influence.

Russia has said the conference should include all permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the United States, Britain, China and France), Syria’s neighbors (Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon), as well as key regional players (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran) and international organizations (the Arab League and the European Union).


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