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Threat of force against Syria unacceptable- Russia
October 24, 2013, 9:12 am

[Getty Images]

The Friends of Syria group meet in London [Getty Images]

The Friends of Syria group has insisted President Bashar al-Assad has no role in Syria’s future, a challenge that upsets plans for a peace conference in Geneva, said a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Foreign ministers of 11 countries gathered in London to meet Syrian opposition officials and discuss preparations for the Geneva-2 conference.

The final document adopted at the meeting “again sets regime change in Damascus as the key task, defines the National Coalition as the sole legal representative of the Syrian people, and voices a threat to use ‘all options’ to influence the violators of ‘London decisions,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.

“This is a poorly masked threat to return to the scenario of using military force, which is unacceptable,” added the statement.

British Foreign Minister William Hague said a political transition in Syria has to move away from the regime of President Assad and that a transitional government could only be agreed with the consent of the SNC.

“The only sustainable way to end this conflict and the suffering of innocent Syrian civilians is through a political transition in Syria,” Hague said after the meeting on Tuesday.

“We are clear that Syrian President Assad has no role in a peaceful and democratic Syria,” Hague added.

A Syrian government representative last week told journalists in Moscow that the conference would start on November 23, although only the United Nations has the final authority to set the date.

Major Syrian opposition groups still remain reluctant to take part in the Geneva-2 peace talks.

“We cannot be part of those responsible for shedding the blood of our people,” Syria opposition Chief Ahmad Jarba said at a press conference in London after the meet.

The Foreign Ministry statement also expressed disappointment that its “Western partners are trying in vain to ensure the participation of opposition structures in an international conference under the umbrella of the [Syrian] National Coalition, which has been proposed by Russia and the United States.”

“An impression is created that the ‘London document’ aims to provoke Damascus in order to try to frustrate Geneva-2 while shifting the blame from the opposition to the Syrian authorities,” the statement said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said after the talks in London that there can be no military solution to the conflict while asserting that western countries can not guarantee the participation of the disparate groups of the Syrian opposition.

“I don’t know anybody including the Russians and others in the region who are not part of the support group who believe there is a military solution to this conflict,” he urged.

The Syrian war has resulted in a spiralling of violence into other countries that threatens to destabilise the region.

The Friends of Syria group consists of Britain, Egypt, Germany, France, Italy, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, together with opposition leaders.

Source: Agencies