MOSCOW, (SANA) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and the US will work to encourage the Syrian government and the opposition groups to find a political solution, adding that both sides agreed on exerting efforts to accelerate this.
Speaking during a joint press conference with US State Secretary John Kerry in Moscow, Lavrov added that there might be an international conference as a follow-up to the Geneva Communiqué at the end of this month.
"We agreed on the need to work together to persuade the representatives of the government and the opposition that they should jointly determine the frameworks, future and mechanisms to meet Geneva commitments," said Lavrov.
He also added that the Russian and the US sides agreed on the need to preserve the safety of Syria and its territorial integrity and that negotiations can be used as "a vital tool" to end the bloodshed in Syria, to overcome the humanitarian crisis, and a means of preventing the use of chemical weapons in the region.
“We undertake an obligation to use the possibilities that the US and Russia have to bring both the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiating table. We will do so in partnership with other interested states which should demonstrate their commitment to help the Syrian people to find a political solution to the crisis as soon as possible and within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué,” he stated.
He hailed the Syrian government's agreement to adopt the Geneva Communiqué since it was issued last June, upon which it has formed a dialogue committee charged with starting negotiations with all the Syrians, noting that those words should turn into actions.
But in order for words to become actions, "we need to hear some word from the opposition side," Lavrov added. "The opposition hasn’t said single word yet which would confirm its commitment to the Geneva Communiqué and hasn’t named representatives charged to negotiate in the opposition name." "And when we hear the right words from the united opposition - given the fact that the Syrian regime has already voiced the right words - then we will try to transfer such words into actions," said Lavrov.
He stressed that both sides agreed to use all possibilities in the US and in Russia to start working with all the parties concerned both inside and outside Syria to hold an international conference to convince both Syrian sides to accept the terms of the Geneva accord.
Lavrov reiterated that "We are not interested in the fate of certain persons…We are interested in the fate of the total Syrian people."
He said both Russia and the US are concerned about the possibility of chemical weapon use in Syria. "This is a very complex and challenging matter and we have to be 100 per cent sure we won’t get captive to rumors," Lavrov said.
"We as everybody else know that those who are fighting on the ground in Syria are capable of doing provocative acts, Lavrov added, noting that Russia and the US agreed during meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putinon even closer contact between their special services in order to investigate the reality behind the reports of chemical weapon use in Syria.
"We and the US have insisted on the need for political solution so as to prevent the fragmentation of Syria and respect its sovereignty and take tangible steps to implement the Geneva Communiqué," said Lavrov, adding "What makes us optimistic is that the current U.S. administration shares our stances. We want the voice of Russia and the US to be heard by everybody."
For his part, the U.S. Secretary of State described the meeting with Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov as "very productive" in a way that "has contributed significantly to our ability to map a road ahead," hailing the importance of being now together with the Russian partners at this moment trying to find a solution to the crisis in Syria.
This shows that "Despite different points of view, committed partners can accomplish great things together when the world needs it," said Kerry, adding that both President Putin and US President Barack Obama see eye to eye on this.
"We believe that the Geneva Communiqué is the important track to end the bloodshed in Syria," Kerry told the reporters, adding that it must not be a "piece of paper" but rather "the roadmap" to a "new Syria".
He said that he and Lavrov expressed hope to convene an international conference as a follow-up to the Geneva Communiqué to bring together the Syrian government and the opposition so as to determine how to fully implement the Geneva Communiqué which says that a transitional government can be created by "mutual consent" of the two parties.
Kerry said that the US and Russia stressed Syria' territorial integrity and that they realize that this requires consensus of all the parties, adding that they therefore agreed to work with partners and allies to "bring both sides to the table" in partnership with the foreign states which should demonstrate their commitment to help the Syrian people to find a political solution to the crisis.
The U.S. State Secretary said he agreed with Lavrov on commitment to reaching a negotiated settlement as a basis to end the bloodshed and handle the humanitarian crisis in Syria and go on with implementing the Geneva Communiqué.
He added that there was also agreement to create a transitional body by mutual agreement with the support of the international community that would enjoy full executive powers, including authority to deal with the military parties to solve the crisis.
Kerry warned that alternative to the political transition strategy was more violence, a Syria that heads increasingly towards chaos, a worse humanitarian crisis and possibly and the breakup of the Syrian state.
Kerry warned that what is taking place in Syria stirs the appetite of terrorists who are taking part in terrorist acts and that those terrorist forces are thinking of pooling their efforts and that there must be efforts to combat terrorism in strategic matters.
He cited US's shared interests with Russia as "stability in the region, not letting extremists create problems in the region and elsewhere."
Answering a question about a bill recommending arming Syrian rebels which has gone before Congres, Kerry said he thought ultimately the future of this bill would be determined "to some degree by the state of the evidence in respect to chemical weapons" and that the legislators would base their judgments on the evidence of the analysis ordered by President Obama.
H. Sabbagh/H. Said