Syria agrees ‘in principle’ to attend Geneva 2 conference, Russia says
Fri May 24, 2013 9:8AM
On May 7, Russia and the United States agreed in Moscow to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.Russia says the Syrian government has agreed ‘in principle’ to attend an upcoming international conference in Geneva to discuss the crisis in Syria. “We note with satisfaction that we have received an agreement in principle from Damascus to attend the international conference, in the interest of Syrians themselves finding a political path to resolve the conflict, which is ruinous for the nation and region,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Friday. On May 7, Russia and the United States agreed in Moscow to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012. Some reports say the meeting will be held on June 10, but the Russian diplomat said such reports “cannot be taken seriously” since the ranks of the Syrian opposition groups remain so divided.
“Demands to immediately name a specific date for the conference without having clarity about who - and with what authority - will speak in the name of the opposition, cannot be taken seriously,” Lukashevich stated.Syria’s foreign-backed opposition group, known as the National Coalition, is holding the second day of negotiations on whether to attend the ‘Geneva 2’ meeting. The group is also scrambling to choose a leadership in an effort to save its credibility ahead of the conference. On the first day of the talks, coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh said he would not attend the conference without indications that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is stepping down. On the same day, the top commander of foreign-backed militants in Syria, Brigadier General Salim Idris, also said he would not attend Geneva 2 unless the United States and its allies provided the militants in Syria with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Unrest has gripped Syria for over two years and many people, including large numbers of Syrian security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil. President Assad said on Thursday, “Syria is determined to tackle terrorism and those who support it regionally and globally, and to find a political solution to the crisis.” MKA/HSN