Almost all countries agree Iran should take part in Geneva-2 - Lavrov

Almost all the participants and organizers of an international conference on Syria which is to take place in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22 next year, agree on the importance of Iran taking part in the forum, Russian Foreign Minister said in an interview.

“There are signs of positive impact Iran could have on the settling process /of the Syrian conflict/. Almost everybody talks about it in private conversations and some officials have started speaking publicly in favor of Iran taking part in the conference,” he said.

According to Lavrov, “those who oppose the participation of Iran do this coming from ideological considerations rather than common interests”.,according to Voice of Russia, RIA.

Brahimi says could work around Iranian absence from Syria talks

Iran remains a sticking point in plans for a conference to end the conflict in Syria, international mediator LakhdarBrahimi said on Friday, with the United States still refusing to let it participate.

But Brahimi said he would continue to work with Iranian officials if they were not officially invited. He said they had told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that it would not be the end of the world if they were not present, and they would continue to work with him on the sidelines,according to Voice of Russia, Reuters.


Russian, US and UN officials meet in Geneva ahead of int'l conference on Syria

A Russia-US-UN meeting began in Geneva on Friday as part of preparations for the Geneva-2 international conference on Syria. The three delegations arrived at the UN Palace of Nations. Deputy Foreign Ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov head Russia's delegation to the event, according to Voice of Russia.

Ahead of a trilateral forum between Russian, UN and US officials, Gatilov gave a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where he announced that   the Syrian government have promised to take part in the conference without any preconditions,” Gatilov said. “The opposition’s confirmation is still pending. “At the meeting, we are going to inquire with the Americans about the degree of opposition’s preparedness and the list of its possible representatives,” he added. All delegates’ lists are to be handed in by December 27.


Russia to transfer $2 mln to UN fund to transport Syrian chemical weapons

Russia has decided to allocate $2 million to the UN fund to assist in transferring Syrian chemical weapons to platforms in order to destroy them, director of the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade department for the implementation of the Convention's obligations, Viktor Kholstov, said.

"Russia has decided to assist in transferring funds to the UN in order to carry out necessary measures related to the transfer of the chemical weapons from the storage facility in Syria to these platforms [in the United States] for their further destruction," Kholstov told reporters on Thursday. The funds to be allocated amount to $2 million, he said, according to Voice of Russia, Interfax


Russia can be proud of principal positions on international issues

MOSCOW_ Russia has made a major input into settlement of vital lasting international problems, including those related to Syria, or the Iranian nuclear programme, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told a big news conference on Thursday.

However, he said, no results could be possible “without the joint efforts with the Americans, Europeans, with the Chinese friends,” he said. “We may be proud of what and how we have been doing in the international arena. We may be proud of the principal positions… based on the major principles of the international law. But I would like to stress once again: without joint work with our counterparts it would have not been possible to achieve those results.”

 “We are grateful to the counterparts from the US, the European Commission for the joint work,” Putin said, according to ITAR TASS.


Russia Joins Operation to Remove Chemical Weapons From Syria

MOSCOW_Russia will send armored trucks to Syria as part of an international effort to remove chemical weapons from the Arab  country for destruction at sea, the international watchdog overseeing the operation said in a statement posted online Wednesday, according to  RIA Novosti.

Russia is also ready to provide security for cargo operations at the port of Latakia and in Syrian territorial waters while weapons stocks are transferred to a US navy ship that will “neutralize” the chemicals, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in the statement.

Uzumcu said Russia would provide water tanks and other logistical supplies as well as the large-capacity trucks. It was also willing to consider further financial or material support for the multinational operation to remove the most deadly of Syria’s chemical weapons within one month, the OPCW said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow was ready to provide a naval escort for ships carrying chemical weapons being removed from Syria.

Uzumcu said that Denmark and Norway would provide ships and military escorts for transporting the Syrian chemicals at sea and for carrying chemicals to be disposed of at commercial facilities.

Finland had also offered chemical weapon “emergency-response” capabilities, and Italy was providing access to a port for trans-loading the priority chemicals from Danish and Norwegian vessels to the US ship.

The United States will also provide nearly 3,000 container drums to store the chemicals and GPS trackers to monitor their movement, as well as loading, transportation and decontamination equipment.

China is also joining the operation by providing surveillance cameras and 10 ambulances.

Uzumcu made an appeal for the international community to urgently provide more financial support for the program. The existing special fund stood at 9.8 million euros ($13.5 million), with an additional 750,000 euros pledged by Finland and South Korea, while Japan had promised to contribute nearly $15 million to be shared between the OPCW and the United Nations.

The operation to destroy Syria’s arsenal of more than 1,000 metric tons of weapons-grade chemicals is due to take place in two stages. The most dangerous weapons have to be removed from Syria by the end of December and destroyed at sea by April, with the rest slated for destruction by mid-2014.


Geneva II Conference to Prioritize Anti-Terrorism Fight in Syria, Mideast

MOSCOW - The fight against terrorism in Syria and the Middle East will be one of the key issues at the Geneva II Peace Conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the Russian Federation Council, upper house of parliament, on Wednesday, according to Itar Tass News Agency.

 “It seems to me the international community agrees that the fight against terrorism is one of the priority issues, which will be on the agenda of the Geneva II Peace Conference due to take place in Montreux on January 22, 2014,” the minister said.

Commenting on the recent attack on peaceful civilians in the Syrian town of Adra, he said, “Terrorist internationalism is putting down roots in Syria.”

 “Terrorist groups, which are not linked with Al Qaeda, have a serious impact on the situation. These groups are now posing the most serious threat in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole,” Lavrov said.

 “It would be very useful for the Syrian government and the opposition to unite in order to fight terrorism. The terrorist threat is the main obstacle to settle the situation in Syria,” he

Russia honors all effective contacts with Syria

All effective contracts between Russia and Syria, including those in the sphere of military-technical cooperation are being honored, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

 “In particular, this concerns the contracts for economic interaction between Russia and Syria,” Lavrov said.

Elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons runs at full speed

According to the Voice of Russia, Lavrov said that the process of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons runs at full speed in compliance with the schedule.

"Now the second stage, which requires consolidation of many countries’ efforts, begins," he said, recalling that the main parameters of the second stage were approved at the meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday, Lavrov added.

Progress noticed on Syrian, Iranian tracks

In another context, Lavrov said that progress has been noticed on the Syrian and Iranian tracks based on common sense and collective political and diplomatic actions.

“Since the very beginning Russia has insisted the Syrian conflict be settled through dialogue with the respect of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the minister said.

Russia “seeks to contribute to the political settlement in Syria”, he said, adding “We’re working hard to convene the Geneva II Peace Conference. The unification of the Syrian opposition would facilitate this.”

“Our consistent position helped take decisions and launch the efforts aimed at putting chemical weapons in Syria under international control in order to eliminate them in the future,” Lavrov said.

He added that the closure of issues related to Iran’s nuclear program should lead to reconsidering the U.S. concept on European missile defense, Lavrov said.

“The resolution of Iran’s nuclear problem will allow us to ground the need to create missile defense in Europe,” the minister said.



Geneva 2 conference to kick off Jan 22 in Montreux – Brahimi

UN's special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi says the conference on Syrian peace will open on January 22 in a Swiss town of Montreux,according to Voice of Russia, RIA.

This is according to the UN’s tweet which has confirmed the exact place and date of the long-awaited peace talks.

On Friday, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced that the negotiations were to take place in a Swiss town nestled in a sheltered Lake Geneva bay, and not in Geneva, as it was anticipated.


Churkin: US ‘manipulated public opinion,’ ignored appeals for Syria chem attack evidence

New York- Russian UN Envoy Vitaly Churkin has announced that Russia have heard no evidence from its international partners in the international organization refuting reports uncovering that the armed terrorist groups in Syria had used chemical weapons, a matter that was affirmed by international experts.

According to Russia Today, Churkin said that while building up a case against the Syrian government, the US has relied on the sophisticated filtration of information and manipulation of public opinion through carefully weighted statements with no hard proof.

“Our requests for additional information which could prove the Syrian government alleged involvement in the use of chemical weapons were ignored by Washington,” Churkin added following a closed-door UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on two UN chemical weapons reports by Ake Sellstrom.

The sarin attacks near Aleppo on March 19 and in Ghouta on August 21 are the two most “alarming” incidents of the Syrian conflict, Churkin told reporters, adding that the story becomes “full of contradictions” if blame is placed on the Syrian government.

"Why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons on August 21?"Churkin asked."Is it to cross the red line drawn by Washington and invite a missile strike upon itself?  Why would the opposition use chemical weapons? It is exactly because of the red line and to provoke foreign military intervention in Syria," he said.

The August 21 attack was a provocation by the armed groups, Churkin stressed, noting that Sellstrom’s investigation got acquainted with the OPCW-certified (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) report. He added that the UN team did not refute the results found by Russian experts in the report.

At the time, the Syrian government immediately requested an international investigation of the March 19 incident, Churkin reminded, but then the United States, the United Kingdom and France tried to hinder the process of reaching facts.

H. Mustafa