Syrian opposition unity useful if dialogue with authorities - Russian diplomat

Unification of the Syrian opposition will be useful only if the opposition starts a dialogue with the national government, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted on Monday.

"Unification of the Syrian opposition may be useful if the opposition starts a political dialogue with the government, as it is envisaged by the Geneva document," he posted.

Moscow is hopeful of peaceful settlement efforts from the united Syrian opposition, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a commentary published on the ministry Web site earlier in the day.

"Moscow is closely monitoring unification efforts by the Syrian opposition. As we have said before, we view as the main criteria the readiness of parties to such alliances to promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict by the people of Syria, without foreign interference, through dialogue and negotiations," he said.

"We will stay in touch with the Syrian government and the entire range of opposition forces to encourage this constructive attitude," which is consistent with the Geneva Communique of the Action Group, the diplomat said.

"Our primary task is to assist in the soonest termination of bloodshed, save lives and aid the start of the transitional political process in Syria," Lukashevich said.

Syrian opposition groups agreed to establish the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces at a conference in Doha last Sunday. Former Damascus mosque imam Mouaz Al-Khatib became the coalition leader.

The media said that the 12-point political platform of the coalition pledged to pursue the ouster of the Syrian regime and to abstain from any dialogue or negotiations with the regime. The coalition hopes to be internationally acknowledged and form an interim government. It also plans to convene a constituent assembly after the incumbent authorities are gone.

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