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Russia, South Africa for Coordinating Stances on Crisis in Syria, Says Putin

MOSCOW,(ST) - " Moscow will continue its efforts to solve the crisis in Syria as soon as possible away from any foreign intervention, "underscored Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin made the statement at a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday  in the Russian Black sea resort of Sochi.

Russia Today website quoted Putin as saying" We want to work for halting the violence as soon as possible and we will support Syria’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity".

" Russia and South Africa have agreed to continue coordinating their stances regarding the Syrian issue." Putin emphasized.


Moscow insists that Syrian neighbors participate in international conference on Syria

SOCHI, (ST) - Moscow insists that Iran, Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries be invited to an international conference on Syria, which however is not going to be held at the summit level.

"Prior to discussing prospects for a convening a conference, it’s necessary to make sure that all parties will be present at it. The (Syrian) government has selected its delegation for negotiations. The opposition is going to meet next week,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Thursday. He explained that the Syrian opposition was expected to meet in several places because it did not have “a single umbrella”.

"The most important thing is to get the composition of the negotiating team from them,” Lavrov said.

 “After that, we are going to determine the rest of the participants who will not be only from the Syrian side. We are convinced that it’s necessary to use the list of participants in the Geneva conference held last June. Besides, Syria’s neighbors, including Iran, should also be invited,” Lavrov emphasized.

"If we are going to do serious work, it’s necessary to ensure the participation of all the key influential external players and give up ideological and geopolitical predilections,” Lavrov emphasized.

Asked to comment on the format of the international conference on Syria, Lavrov replied that it would be decided later but said that the gathering was unlikely to take place at the summit level.


China, Italy, Iran Urge Political Solution to Crisis in Syria

CAPITALS- China has reiterated that the only realistic way for addressing the Syrian issue is to seek a political solution, according to the Chinese News Agency Xinhua.

The agency quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying on Thursday that China has paid high attention to the development of the situation in Syria and played a constructive role in resolving the issue politically.

"China believed that the future destiny of Syria should be decided by the Syrian people themselves," he said.

"The pressing problem is to urge all relevant sides to cease fire and stop violence as soon as possible and start the political transition based on the communique of the Geneva foreign ministers' meeting of the Action Group," he said.

"Any action taken by the international community, including the UN General Assembly, should be conducive to realizing the above goals while observing the principles of the UN Charter and basic norms governing the international relations," he added.

According to Hong, relevant countries recently tabled a draft resolution to the 67th UN General Assembly. "As with a number of UN member states, China showed serious concern over part of the contents of the draft resolution and thus demanded sponsor countries to take into full consideration the viewpoints of all relevant sides and not forcibly push forward the vote in order not to hamper a political solution," he said.

As the sponsor countries had forcibly pushed forward the vote without fully communicating with all sides, China voted to oppose the draft resolution, he said.

He stressed that China sought no self-interest on the Syrian issue and had no intention to take sides.

"Should any solution by widely accepted by relevant sides in Syria, China would take a positive and open attitude toward it," he said.

"We are willing to make joint efforts with the international community, including the Arab countries, to persist in the direction of political solution so as to solve the crisis in Syria with a fair, peaceful and proper manner," he said.

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Wednesday, calling for a political transition in Syria. The resolution is not legally binding.

In the same context, Italy also called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria.

The Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino was quoted by the Italian News Agency AKI as saying in Rome that the diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria is the only way out and it must be adopted.

"There is a chance to solve the crisis diplomatically through holding Geneva Conference 2," she said.

In Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry stressed that the unbinding UN resolution adopted against Syria yesterday, doesn't contribute to solving the crisis in the country, but it will lead to further extremism among the armed terrorist groups which will commit more crimes against the Syrian people. It will also undermine all efforts aiming at attaining a political solution that ends the crisis.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqji said in a statement that the "UN resolution was issued within certain circumstances in which Syria and the entire region are in need for security and stability much more than any time before."    

H. Mustafa 

Al-Jaafari: draft resolution on Syria fuels violence

NEW YORK,(ST)_Syria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations has censured the Wednesday's draft resolution on Syria, stressing that it aims to fuel violence in Syria.

Addressing the UN General Assembly in a session held today (Wednesday) to debate a draft resolution on Syria,  Bashar al-Jaafari said: "It is absolutely astonishing that a draft resolution presented to the UN under the title 'prevention of armed conflict' while its content contradicts the title and the noble goal of it."

The draft resolution, he added, aims to escalate the crisis and fuel violence in Syria through legitimizing the act of supplying terrorist groups in Syria with weapons and passing illegitimacy recognition of specific party from outside opposition on the pretext of being "legitimate representative of Syrian people".

Al-Jaafari clarified that this specific party (the Syrian opposition coalition formed in Doha), which is not united and has no Head, doesn't represent the opposition outside Syria or inside it.

"Giving Syria's seat on the Arab League to the 'Doha Coalition' and the attempt to involve the UN in giving false position to it seek to hinder the process of resolving the crisis and undermine the Syrian state."

AL destructive role

The Syrian representative also noted the destructive role of the AL led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the new member, Turkey, against Syria, saying that the AL has legitimized the act of arming terrorists.

"Under the international law, this means funding terrorism," al-Jaafari said.

He added that some states, which claim working to achieve freedom and democracy in Syria, prevent the people from choosing their representatives and leader.

Al-Jaafari, in addition, stressed that some states tirelessly work to abort the peaceful political solution to the crisis in Syria.

"For example, today's draft resolution is a swimming against a  current in the light of the US-Russian accord which the Syrian government had welcomed," he concluded.

The resolution condemned

The draft resolution was denounced by several representatives to the UN during their speeches in today's session. 

Deputy of Russia's Representative to the UN said: "The draft resolution is irresponsible. It fuels situation in Syria and hinders international efforts that seek to implement the Geneva Communiqué."

China's Representative, for his part, said:"China believes that political solution is the only outlet for the ongoing crisis in Syria… the new draft resolution distress us."

South Africa's Representative said: "We are disappointed at the resolution as it's biased and imbalanced. It fuels situations in Syria."

Iran's Representative said: " It undermines international efforts to bring about political solution to the crisis in Syria and breaches the UN charter and international law…it turns blind eye to armed groups' terrorist acts… Iran opposes it (the draft resolution)."

Venezuela's Representative said: "The resolution is biased and imbalanced is a breach of the Syrian sovereignty and affect international security and stability."

Bolivia's Representative said:" We oppose the draft resolution on Syria because it has not been discussed transparently and it did not take our worries into consideration…it doesn't put an end to violence.. rather, it obstacles efforts being exerted to reach solution."


Basma Qaddour

Palestinians mark 65th anniversary of Nakba

Palestinians are marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced out of their homes and into exile, according to agencies.

Sirens were sounded for 65 seconds and demonstrations took place at midday local time in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jericho to mark the day.

In Jerusalem, at around 11am people started to gather and then at 11.30am they walked from Manara Square with marching bands, Jane Ferguson reported. This was followed by speeches by officials and a concert.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their villages during the war that established "Israel" in 1948, an event they commemorate every year as their Nakba Day, Arabic for "catastrophe".

On Tuesday, the eve of the anniversary, Palestinians carried 65 torches through the streets of Ramallah to mark the event, while hundreds of others gathered around a stage to hear the Palestinian National Forces band play their instruments.

In the evening, a special pre-recorded speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was broadcast on Palestinian television.

Abbas said that the Palestinian right to an "independent state" had been affirmed by "countries all over the world" .

'Right of return'

Palestinians have maintained for six decades that Arabs who either fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting that followed Israel's 1948 creation, as well as all their descendants, all have the right to reclaim former properties in what is now s0-called Israel.

The uprooted Palestinians and their offspring, now numbering several million people, cite United Nations resolutions in claiming the right to return to the property they left behind.

The fate of Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian claim to what they call "the Right of Return" is an explosive issue that has loomed large in the failure of " Palestinian -Israeli peace talks" over the past two decades.

In previous rounds of negotiations, several ideas were floated, including allowing for a limited return of refugees to what is now Israel and settling the rest in a future Palestinian state and third countries along with compensation.