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Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:39PM
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasizes the involvement of Iran in the forthcoming conference on Syria. In an interview with Moscow-based Echo of Moscow radio station on Thursday, Lavrov said that Russia is currently holding talks with US officials and Kofi Annan over the Syrian crisis. The fact that Washington backs the Syria Contact Group meeting -- which is scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 30 -- attests that now is a suitable time for such a conference. Nevertheless, the participants must be chosen fairly, he said. The top Russian diplomat said that key countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar should take part in the international conference on Syria. Representatives from the United Nations, Arab League and European Union should also attend the conference, Lavrov noted. The remarks come on the same day as Arab League’s deputy secretary general Ahmed Bin Hilli deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Hilli stressed Iran’s participation in the international conference. "In my view, all the players taking part in the Syrian crisis must be part of this contact group," he said. During a press briefing on June 9, the Russian foreign minister proposed that an international conference on Syria be held with the aim of supporting the peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. It is not the first time Russia underscores the presence of Iran in the upcoming conference. "The number of participants should be limited but it must be representative and include all the key external players. We believe that these are primarily the five permanent UN Security Council members, all of Syria's neighbors, which are Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon, and also Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Arab League and Iran," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on June 15. Britain, France and the United States have expressed opposition to Iran's involvement in the international initiative on Syria. MP/MA
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