Russia has urged both the Syrian government and the opposition to work together to force "terrorists and extremists" out of the Arab country. "In my opinion, this task should be a major item on the agenda of the proposed international conference on Syria," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday in a meeting with the visiting Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil.
"To our regret, unlike the government of Syria, a significant part of the opposition, including the National Coalition, has not expressed such readiness yet," he added.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. No date has been set for the conference yet. The Russian foreign minister added that Moscow had been in contact with the Syrian government and opposition groups in a bid to convince them to participate in the conference "as soon as possible without any preconditions." Jamil, for his part, said some Western countries were to blame for the lasting conflicts in his country and that their political and military attempts to overthrow the Syrian government in the past two years "have failed." The turmoil in Syria erupted in March 2011. Since then, many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed. According to reports, the West and its regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants fighting against the government. PG/SS/SL