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UN Chief discusses Syria in Moscow
May 17, 2013, 12:03 pm

Netanyahu met with Putin to discuss resolving the Syrian crisis [PPIO]

Netanyahu met with Putin to discuss resolving the Syrian crisis [PPIO]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the southern Russian resort of Sochi on Friday.

The talks are expected to focus in particular on the situation in Syria. Ban earlier said in an interview that he hopes to discuss settling the Syrian issues during his visit to Russia with account for the country’s important role in international affairs.

Syria has been high on the agenda of Russia’s foreign policy.

On May 14, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin to discuss a way out of the Syrian quagmire.

About 80,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, according to UN figures, and a further 1.5 million have become refugees.

Israel itself launched two attacks against Syrian military facilities two weeks ago, claiming it fears that advanced weaponry which threatens Israeli cities could fall in the hands of radical troops.

Netanyahu’s visit to Russia is the third in a flurry of diplomatic activity seeking to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

It has been discussed in Russia over the past week, with John Kerry and David Cameron visiting Moscow and Sochi respectively.

Daria Chernyshova, the BRICS Post’s correspondent in Moscow, says that Russia has been at odds with the West over the issue, but the recent visits signify that the two are trying hard to put aside differences to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.

They also signify that Western powers see Russia as a key partner in helping to end the civil war.

Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.

Syria analyst Camille Otrakji says that it is important for the US and the UN to work from the common denominator that “neither side can win by force, neither side is always right and moral, and that neither side enjoys the backing of a large majority of the Syrian people”.

The UN chief is in Russia on an official visit on May 16-19. The visit is Ban’s sixth to Russia, with the previous one paid in April 2011.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said it hopes Ban will discuss social and economic aspects of the United Nations activities and plans for the organization’s development after 2015.