UN chief to set timeframe for Geneva-2 talks on Syria - Russia

The spokesperson for the Russian foreign office has refused to comment on the date of the long-delayed Syria peace talks in Geneva, which Syria’s deputy PM Qadri Jamil said was planned for November 23-24. Alexander Lukashevich said the exact date would be announced by the UN Secretary General,according to Voice of Russia.

"As to the dates mentioned by Mr. Qadri Jamil, I can neither confirm nor dismiss them. It is the duty and responsibility of the UN Secretary General, since the forum is to be held under his aegis," Lukashevich said Thursday.

"We are expecting him to give us a sign when he plans to announce the timeframes," the diplomat added.

Lukashevich said the Russian authorities are ready to announce these dates, "bearing in mind that the Syrian government has more than once confirmed its readiness to fully take part in this conference and has already appointed its authorized delegation."

"However, we are talking about a very important political step, the position of the Syrian opposition groups, which, firstly, should form a unified position on Geneva II because we are now hearing increasingly threatening statements that Geneva II is not a forum acceptable to the opposition," Lukashevich said.

"The opposition is ready to go until the end to overthrow the current government, that is, it is moving into a totally different direction not only from the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012, but also the demand made in the UN Security Council's Resolution 2118, which fully backed the idea of an international conference on Syria on the basis of the Geneva communique," he said.

Russia does not insist on presence of Syrian "opposition's coalition" in Geneva II

The idea of gathering Syrian "opposition forces" at the Geneva II international peace conference for Syria under the national coalition aegis has been buried, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"It does not have to be a single [opposition] or unite under the "national coalition's" umbrella, which is desired by our Western colleagues. As we can see, this prospect has actually been buried because it [the coalition] is no longer integral," Lukashevich said.

He added that Russia and its negotiation partners continued to make energetic efforts on all levels for the conference's sake. 

The main problem at the moment is "the complicating situation inside the "Syrian opposition", which is undergoing mimicry, developing absolutely dangerous forms of the armed struggle in Syria and bluntly rejecting the political settlement prospects," the diplomat said.

"This trend must be reversed," the ministry spokesman observed.

In his words, Russia hopes that "US colleagues, who kept telling us they would unite the "opposition" on the political settlement platform and force it to come to Geneva for a dialogue with the government alongside the attendance by a number of regional states that are openly sponsoring opposition groups, will make sure that the opposition puts in a full-scale appearance consistent with the earlier agreements."

Syria successfully proceeds with elimination of its chemical weapons

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Damascus is successfully providing inspections of its chemical weapons and has proceeded with elimination of the key equipment.


Bogdanov, Gatilov , Feltman discuss Syria

MOSCOW, (ST)_The Russian President's Special Representative to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov discussed with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman the topics listed on the Middle East agenda, with focus on putting the crisis in Syria on a political course through convening the international conference in Geneva.

Also, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and Feltman discussed the situation in Syria and means of finding a political and diplomatic solution there.

"the situation in Syria and finding political and diplomatic ways for finding a solution to the crisis there have been the focal point of the talks,"said the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press statement released on Wednesday.

Both sides  agreed that "the UN Security Council resolution No. 2118 provides the political and legal frameworks, needed not only for placing chemical weapons in Syria under international control and having them destroyed, but also for launching an inter-Syrian dialogue.''

"forming an opposition delegation that reflects the interests of all categories of the Syrian society that has a multi-faith nature,stressed the two sides.''

Gatilov and Feltman made it clear that ''one of the key tasks of the conference is to unify the efforts of the government and opposition to deter the mounting threat of terrorism in Syria." 


Russia ready to send more chemical arms experts to Syria


Russia has said it is ready to swell the ranks of its chemical arms experts in Syria, should the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons request more help.

The country’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday Russia’s “core group includes two people or perhaps a bit more.”

Mr. Gatilov added Russia had more experts at its disposal who could go to Syria if the anti-chemical weapons watchdog required their assistance,according to Voice of Russia, TASS.


Lavrov calls Russian-US agreement on Syrian chemical weapons renaissance of diplomacy

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the Russian-US understandings on Syria's chemical weapons a renaissance of diplomacy aimed not at building coalitions but at reaching common goals,according to Voice of Russia.

Speaking at the Brussels-based Royal Institute for International Relations (Egmont Institute), Lavrov suggested that the world has switched to a polycentric from a bipolar system of international relations in this century.

"Mechanisms for making joint decisions by leading global centers were embedded in the UN Charter, but the historical process has followed a route postponing their practical implementation by several decades. It is time now to fully employ these opportunities," he said.

"In other words, it is time for a renaissance of diplomacy," he said.

Only national states can use the diplomatic tools they possess for establishing efficient global administration bodies, Lavrov said.

"The development of the Russian-US proposals based on an agreement between the Russian and US presidents, which has been laid in the foundation of the OPCW decision and the UN Security Council resolution setting the framework for destroying chemical weapons in Syria, can be fairly seen as an example of such fruitful diplomatic work," he said.

"Let me stress that this result has been achieved due to reaching a qualitatively new level of diplomacy, when the goal is not to build coalitions against someone but to organize collective actions for achieving goals common for all and to look for answers to global challenges," he said.

At the same time, Lavrov mentioned what he sees as attempts by certain international players to shatter the legal foundations of the existing international system and set a precedent of actions bypassing its key principles, including sovereign equality of countries, respect for their independence and territorial integrity, non-use of force or a threat of force, and peaceful resolution of disputes.

"Attacks on immunity of diplomatic agents and missions are inevitably troubling as well. All this leads to destroying the pillars of civilized intergovernmental communication," he added.


Kerry says Syria peace conference should be held soon

US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Monday for a peace conference on Syria "very soon" ,according to Voice of Russia, Reuters.

"We believe it is urgent to set a day, to convene the conference," Kerry told reporters after meeting United Nations special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in London.


UN names envoy for Syria chemical weapons

The head of the United Nations on Sunday named Sigrid Kaag to lead the UN's joint mission with the chemical weapons watchdog tasked with eliminating Syria's arsenal, diplomats said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made his appointment of Kaag known in a letter addressed to Azerbaijan's UN envoy Agshin Mehdiyev, who holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council,according to the Hindustan Times.

Kaag, a UN assistant secretary-general working at the UN Development Program, has served since 2007 as the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Amman.

The mission she is set to lead must include about a hundred staff members and be based in Damascus, with a second base in Cyprus.

Kaag is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile by June 30, in line with a resolution passed by the Security Council last month.

She joined the UN system in 1994 after a stint in the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

Since then, she has also worked as a senior UN adviser in Sudan, with the International Organization for Migration and with the UN refugee agency UNRWA in Jerusalem.

Kaag, 52, speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Arabic


Russia sells arms to states only, keeps in mind regional situation - Putin

Russia maintains military-technological cooperation only with the legitimate authorities of foreign states and always analyzes the situation in the relevant region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"It is our principled position that arms deliveries to illegal entities undermine the security of a country, a region and the world as a whole. I am confident that many conflicts in various places of the globe could have been avoided if all arms makers of the world had adhered to the same principles as Russia does," he said at a meeting of the Russian Commission for Military-Technological Cooperation with Foreign States,according to Voice of Russia, Intefax.

Russia values its reputation as a responsible actor on the world arms market and fully complies with its commitments and non-proliferation and arms control regulations, he said. Russian laws allow for the delivery of armaments to foreign states exclusively within the framework of their legal regimes, Putin said.

"Russia concludes such contracts only with legitimate authorities and only for the sake of the defense capacity and sovereignty of these states. The concrete situation in the region is always comprehensively analyzed," Putin said.


West unable to force Syrian "opposition" to attend Geneva-2 - Lavrov

The unpreparedness to take part in the Geneva-2 international peace conference for Syria declared by "Syrian National Council" demonstrates the inability of the West to compel the Syrian "opposition" to negotiate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said,according to Voice of Russia, Interfax

"The statement of "SNC", which is affiliated in some way with the "National Coalition of the Syrian opposition", is another confirmation of the need to hold this conference as soon as possible," Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.

"The main obstacle to this endeavor is still the inability of our partners to force the Syrian "opposition", whom they are supporting, to come to Geneva and sit down at the negotiating table with the government in order to find ways out of this crisis by general consent," the minister remarked.

"Our partners, primarily the Americans, have assured us they will gather everyone for this conference "under the umbrella of the "National Coalition"," Lavrov said.

In his words, US Secretary of State John Kerry told him several days ago that the United States was making energetic efforts to ensure this, which would soon yield results.