Lavrov ,Venizelos to discuss Syria

MOSCOW- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Greece on October 29-30 for talks on Russian-EU relations and the situation in Syria, the Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday,according to ITAR TASS.

Lavrov is expected to hold talks with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos. The Russian minister is due to meet Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Lavrov and Venizelos will open a conference entitled “Ioannis Kapodistrias and Russian-Greek Relations”. The conference will take place within the events devoted to the 185th anniversary of Greek Independence Day.

The purpose of the visit “is to continue a political dialogue with Greece on a wide range of bilateral and international issues”. Both parties “will exchange views on Russia-EU interaction, including in the context of Greece’s upcoming presidency in the EU slated for the second half of 2014. The parties will also discuss the situation in Syria and Egypt, Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in the Balkan region, etc,” the ministry said.

The positions of Russia and Greece “coincide. Both countries favor the strengthening of the U.N. role in international relations as the key universal institution to maintain peace and security”, the ministry said.

Relations between Russia and Greece “are based on friendship and mutual sympathy. The countries maintain political and other contacts at different levels”, the ministry said.

Greece remains to be Russia’s stable partner in trade and the economy. “Despite serious difficulties in Greece, our relations continue upward trend: trade turnover is growing. In 2012 it reached 6.5 billion dollars - this is the biggest rate in the history of relations. Trade increased by almost 25 percent as compared with 2011. In the seven months of the year mutual trade increased by 4.5 percent and amounted to 3.5 billion dollars as compared with the same period of last year,” the ministry said.

The 8th session of the Russian-Greek commission on economic, industrial, scientific and technical cooperation gave a considerable impetus to trade and economic interaction between the two countries.

M.D

Moscow slams 'Friends of Syria' for undermining Geneva peace talks

Moscow has blamed the ‘Friends of Syria’ group for attempting to revise the key elements of the Geneva communique of 2012 and influence the outcome of the Geneva 2 conferenceACCORDING TO ITAR TASS.

"We have to state that contrary to previously held understandings on how to resolve the crisis in Syria the final document issued after the meeting attempts to revise the key elements of the 30 June 2012 Geneva communique," Russian Foreign Ministry's spokesman said in a statement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also asserted: “It is this document that has been recognized as the only platform to achieve a political settlement in Syria and has recently been approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2118.”

The spokesman states that prior to London’s meeting of 11 foreign ministers of the ‘Friends of Syria’ group, Russia was told that “the discussions there will be held exclusively on the basis of the Geneva communique.”

Moscow believes that the discussions violated the diplomatic effort and is seen as “an attempt to revise the communique according to the political needs [of the Syrian opposition]," to create a “regime change” in Damascus. Lukashevich also said that the London communique contained a "poorly hidden threat" of armed intervention in Syria.

For its part, Russia is ready to help “settle the crisis in Syria on the basis of the Geneva Communique and the earlier reached understandings, including between Russia and the United States and through the participation of other permanent members of the Security Council and the UN Secretary General, in regard to steps needed to convene an international conference.”

Russia insists that the "National Coalition's representation" in Geneva should be proportional to its political weight in Syria.

 “There is no evidence to suggest that the "coalition" is the sole legitimate representative of either all Syrian people or even the opposition as a whole.”

Lukashevich concluded that the role the outside players should have is to persuade the conflicting Syrian parties to negotiate, but the final settlement should be reached without foreign pressure.

M.D

Putin: Preparation of Geneva 2 common success of international community

            

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the preparation of the Geneva 2 conference on Syria is a major success of the international community. He made this statement in the Kremlin on Wednesday at a ceremony of presentation of credentials by the ambassadors of foreign states, according to ITAR TASS.

The Russian President pointed out that in international affairs Russia is a consistent supporter of “the diplomatic work, persistent negotiations aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions.”

 “It is very important that in the most difficult situation around Syria, it is this approach that has been widely understood and supported by most countries. And the fact that the international community’s efforts are currently focused on the preparation of the Geneva 2 conference is our common success,” Putin said.

The Russian president also stressed that Russia proceeded from the priority of international law and the UN central role. “Crises settlement ways should be sought only on the basis of the UN Charter provisions,” Putin concluded.

M.D 

It's not permissible to let Syrian weapons of mass destruction fall in the hands of terrorists - Shoigu

Syria’s example demonstrated the results of chemical weapons’ falling in the hands of terrorists, Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said today ,according to Voice of Russia, TASS.

"Unfortunately, on the example of Syria we see the results of what happens if chemical weapons fall in the hands of terrorists", Shoigu told journalists after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Defence Ministers.

Today, he noted, "international terrorism still remains the main threat to peace and stability". The Minister noted that components of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of extremists represent the greatest danger.

"Our particular concern is the union of terrorism with the WMD components," the Minister said. "That's why we encourage our partners in the NATO-Russia Council to joint actions in the fight against this common threat to international peace and security," Shoigu said.

He also noted that at the meeting, the parties discussed the situation around Syria. Russia's position remains unchanged: there must be a political solution to the Syrian internal conflict. "The main thing now is the conscientious fulfillment of the UN Security Council's resolution 21-18", the Minister noted, "It is essential that the requirements of the destruction of chemical weapons and its components are applied not only to the government but to the opposition as well. We must confiscate these weapons from the "militants" and destroy it". 

M.D

Damascus confirms intention to take part in Geneva II - Russian diplomat

The Syrian authorities have confirmed their intention to take part in the Geneva II conference in November and hold negotiations with the opposition, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and special presidential envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov said on Wednesday,accoprding to Voice of Russia.

"Yes, we met with Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad yesterday. Yes, everything has been confirmed," Bogdanov said when asked by Interfax whether Russia had received the relevant assurances during the meeting.

Bogdanov met with Haddad to exchange opinions on preparations for Geneva II on Tuesday.

R.S

Syria fully cooperative on chemical disarmament - mission head

Syria has so far "fully cooperated" in destroying its massive chemical arsenal, the chief of the joint Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and United Nations mission said, according to  Voice of Russia, AFP, TASS

"To date, the government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN joint mission," said mission chief Sigfrid Kaag in Damascus.

Kaag said that "by joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Syrian government has indicated its commitment to the task" of destroying it arsenal.

A team of UN-OPCW inspectors arrived in Syria on October 1 to oversee the implementation of UN Security Council 2118, which orders the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and production facilities by mid-2014.

"The timeframes are challenging given the goal of the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014," Kaag said in a statement.

UN chemical mission head arrives in Syria - OPCW

The top UN official leading the mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons has arrived in Damascus, the world's chemical watchdog said.

"Today, the Special Coordinator, Ms Sigrid Kaag arrived in Damascus," the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

The Dutch official, named last week to head the risky joint mission to eradicate Syria's chemical stockpiles, travelled to The Hague over the weekend to meet the OPCW's director general Ahmet Uzumcu, the organisation added.

The organisation, which this month was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the United Nations currently have about 60 experts working in Syria to eradicate chemical weapons.

M.D

WSJ: Saudi Spy Chief Vows to Train, Arm More Terrorists in Protest against US Policy in Syria

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud is extremely dissatisfied with the US and with Barack Obama’s policy over Syria, Iran and Egypt and says that the Saudi Kingdom is going to arm and train more Syrian armed groups in protest against Washington’s policy in the region, according to the Voice of Russia website.

Bandar's stance was announced this weekend during his meeting with the European diplomats.

The statement follows Saudi Arabia's surprise decision on Friday to renounce a seat on the United Nations Security Council, the seat that the government was campaigning for a year. In addition, Saudi Arabia blamed the council's ineffectiveness in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and Syrian conflicts.

The website, the Wall Street Journal said that Bandar, who is leading the kingdom’s efforts to fund, train and arm terrorists fighting Syrian government, invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city Jeddah to voice Riyadh's frustration with the Obama administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.

During the meeting, Bandar said that he intended to roll back a partnership with the US in which the Central Intelligence Agency and other nations’ security bodies have covertly helped train Syrian "rebels" to fight the Syrian government, the diplomat told WSJ, citing Prince Bandar.

But the daily notes that all decisions in the kingdom are made by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and it isn't known if Bandar's reported remarks reflected a decision by the monarch.

On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal to discuss the issue, and the country’s seat in the UN Security Council in particular. According to officials familiar with the meeting, the Saudi minister didn’t share Bandar’s ideas which could mean that there are divisions within the monarchy about how to pressure the US "to play a more hands-on role," the WSJ reports.

Tension between the US and Saudi Arabia have grown sharply in recent months. Saudi Arabia is dissatisfied with Obama’s decision not to bomb Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack in August and with the renewed relations between the US and Iran’s new president.

H.M

Ban Ki-moon : UN Security Council resolution on Syria, the first ominous signal to resolve the crisis

Meantime, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in an interview to the  Russian Izvestia  daily  published  yesterday that , " the UN  and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are working together to implement the urgent task of eliminating  chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria and  affiliated programs," adding that " this matter serves  international peace and security and is a strong incentive to end the conflict in this country. "

The UN Secretary -General stressed  that the only solution to the crisis in Syria is negotiation ," stressing that "the most important thing is to hold an international conference to find means, capable of putting an end to the tragic conflict ."

Ki-moon also considered that "the successes of the UN are  not confined to Syria, " pointing out that Iran and the US  , used  the UN as a venue  to make  " experimental steps aimed at ending their decades long  tension . 

T. Fateh