You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Russian official: Syrian opposition warms up to talks

Nov. 19, 2013 - 11:45AM   |  
A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army runs in a street of Aleppo's Salah al-Din neighbourhood during fighting Monday against Syrian government forces. An estimated 120,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by Syria's civil war. (Karam al-Masri / AFP via Getty Images)
  • Filed Under

MOSCOW — Russia on Tuesday urged Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to cooperate with the opposition in fighting “terrorists” and encouraged the regime to speed up the deliveries of humanitarian aid to the population — a call that reflects Moscow’s attempt to position itself as a mediator in Syria peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also issued a rare compliment to the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group, praising its agreement to come to the Russian capital for talks that would also involve other opposition forces.

Lavrov wouldn’t say when the Moscow talks are set to be held. He added that the coalition chief, Ahmad al-Jarba, said he couldn’t visit Moscow himself at the time when the talks are planned, but remains open for future contacts.

“We note the coalition’s consent to come to Moscow for consultations as a positive step,” Lavrov told a briefing. “We see signs that the coalition has become more realistic.”

Since the start of the Syrian civil war that has killed 100,000 people over the last 2 1 / 2years, Russia has been the key sponsor and ally of Assad’s regime, repeatedly blocking United Nations Security Council resolutions that would slap it with sanctions and continuing to provide it with weapons.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin scored a major diplomatic victory in September by launching an initiative for Syria to surrender and dismantle its chemical weapons stockpiles, a move that helped divert a looming U.S. military action.

Lavrov met Tuesday with a group of visiting Syrian officials and praised Damascus for honoring the chemical weapons deal.

But in a sign that Moscow could raise pressure on Assad to persuade it to take a more flexible stance ahead of the proposed Geneva talks, Lavrov also urged the regime to more actively engage in a dialogue with a moderate part of the opposition.

“It would be even better without waiting for convening Geneva 2 peace conference to launch the joint struggle together with the moderate secular opposition, the struggle against terrorists, who are trying to change power not only in Syria, but also in the entire region,” Lavrov told visiting Syrian officials. “The fact of convening the conference may play a positive role so that reasonable people fighting in the ranks of the opposition would stop doing so and help uproot terrorists.”

Lavrov also encouraged the Syrian government to facilitate the deliveries of humanitarian aid by “cutting bureaucratic procedures.”

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Marine Corps Times

This Week's Marine Corps Times

First sergeant vs. master sergeant
Choose the rank that's best for your career

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook