Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative for Syria (center), met US and Russian officials in Geneva, on Nov.5. Source: UN Photo / Violaine Martin
The Geneva II Syria peace conference has been postponed until possibly the end of the year largely because the United States still has not managed to persuade the Syrian opposition to participate, the Russian diplomat involved in the tri-party talks said Tuesday.
Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov said America needed to put more pressure on the Syrian opposition groups to talk them into participating in Geneva II.
The United Nations, Russia, the U.S. are leading the talks, which the tri-party group had hoped to hold this month in order to negotiate a peace deal between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel groups.
"We felt that the Americans did not have sufficient leverage over the oppositionists to consolidate them," Gatilov said. "We indicated that the recent declarations of some of the opposition leaders sounded disappointing, as they refuse to take part in the conference. And we spoke about the need, nevertheless, to seek their participation."
In addition, according to Interfax, the deputy minister said that the U.S. remained opposed to Iran’s participation in the Geneva II talks, despite Russia’s insistence that the country had a critical role in the process.
"We have tried again to persuade them that Iran is an important participant of the process, who plays a serious role in resolving the Syrian crisis and who can contribute positively, and that it is therefore necessary to invite the country to the conference,” Gatilov said.
The Russian diplomat added that Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, as well as the majority of other Arab states, all agreed that Iran should participate.
"So far, our U.S. partners have no understanding that Iran should take part in the forum," Gatilov said, adding that these two issues meant the conference will be postponed for an indefinite period.
According to previous ITAR-TASS report, a source close to the meeting said that "Geneva II will not take place earlier than December."
Brahimi this week also stated that the Syrian oppositionists lacked consolidation and were not prepared to participate in the peace conference.
"One of the problems certainly involves the position of the opposition,"he said, emphasizing that a new tri-party meeting between Russia, the U.S. and the UN would be held on November 25, and expressed his hope that the opposition would change their approach by that time.
A meeting of the leaders of the Syrian National Coalition is scheduled for November 9 in Istanbul, where they are expected to make a final decision as to their participation in Geneva II.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday in Moscow that the Syrian problem could not be resolved through a foreign, armed intervention.
“It is necessary once and for all to get rid of the illusions that the Syrian knot can be cut through foreign intervention," Lavrov said. He emphasized that the Geneva communiqué "is generally believed to be, in essence, the sole coordinated basis for a peaceful resolution of the problem."
First published in Russian in NewsRu.com.
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