Syria coordinating with Russia for talks with opposition

Syria coordinating with Russia for talks with opposition

229Damascus, Nov 28 (IANS) Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Friday that the Syrian government is coordinating with Russia for launching a dialogue with the Syrian opposition.

In an interview with the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, al-Moallem, who has been on an official visit to Moscow, said that the Syrian government was coordinating with Moscow for embarking on a dialogue between the Syrian administration and the opposition parties that could start in Moscow and continue in Syria, Xinhua reported.

The head of Syrian diplomacy said his government’s relations with Moscow are strategic, noting that the previous talks between his government and the Syrian opposition in Geneva had failed, according to the TV.

Meanwhile, al-Moallem said that Russia was committed to implement its arms deals with Syria.

It is worth mentioning that al-Moallem had personally met with President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow, a move that signifies the strong relations between both countries.

Talks about possible dialogue between the government and opposition in Russia were first floated earlier this month by the pro-government al-Watan newspaper, which said that there was a Russian plan for holding a political dialogue in Moscow between delegations of the Syrian government and opposition leaders.

According to the paper, the Russian plan relies on a Syrian dialogue in Moscow that would be attended by an official Syrian delegation and a number of Syrian opposition leaders from inside and outside Syria, mainly the former head of the exiled Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Muaz al-Khatib, who is being floated as the person who would lead the opposition delegation.

The paper said the opposition delegation would include members of the Syria-based National Coordination Body and a number of independent opposition leaders who defected from the exiled SNC, which had been floated at the beginning of the crisis as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

The newspaper said Washington had withdrawn its recognition of the SNC as the sole representative of the Syrians, citing the group’s inability to forge a strong front of political weight to face the Syrian government, especially after the faltering political talks between the SNC and the Syrian government in the series of Geneva talks earlier this year.

The Geneva talks have given the picture that the SNC had failed to lead the opposition talks, prompting the powers to mull broader representation of the Syrian opposition in future talks.

Al-Watan said Washington did not mind the Russian plan to continue the political dialogue on the basis of the Geneva communique, which was adopted in 2012 and includes the formation of a provisional government that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections in Syria.

The paper said UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was familiar with the Russian plan, as he had visited Muaz al-Khatib this month.

Before resigning from the SNC’s leadership, Muaz al-Khatib has emerged as one of the main voices within the group and has advocated negotiation with the Syrian administration, but was completely rejected by the SNC, which supports all means to bring down the Damascus administration, even by foreign militaries.


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