Lavrov advises Syrian opposition to come up with proposals in response to Assad's initiatives

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov regards as not very far-reaching the proposals of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on organizing a dialog with the opposition but urges opponents to the regime to come up with their own ideas of peaceful settlement.

"President al-Assad put forward his initiatives that are aimed at inviting all opposition figures to dialog," he said at a press conference following his talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara. "Yes, these initiatives are probably not far-reaching enough. Probably someone will not find them serious but they are proposals. If I were the opposition, I would come up with reply ideas about the way to arrange a dialogue."

"We are in contact with all opposition groups and when we hear them say that they have decided to fight to a victorious end, what fulfillment of the Geneva communique can we speak of? It says that all foreign players should encourage all Syrian sides to stop the bloodshed and sit down to the negotiating table through appointing delegations of the government and the opposition,\" Lavrov said.

"The delegations should reach consensus about the parameters, contents and duration of the transitional period during which new general elections in Syria would be prepared. In my opinion, this is a fair and honest approach, if all of us, of course, are interested in saving as many lives of ordinary Syrians as possible," he added.

Lavrov also said that at the Jan. 11 meeting in Geneva of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and UN/LAS special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi the sides agreed that the Syrian crisis threatens the entire region.

"We agree that in this situation the only ones to gain are probably radicals, extremists linked with terrorist groups of the Al-Qaeda type," Lavrov said.

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