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‘West needs to get Syrian opposition to talks table’
October 1, 2013, 12:40 pm

[Getty Images]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow prioritises the need to get “rational members” of the opposition groups onboard [Getty Images]

Russia on Tuesday has once again urged Western countries to ensure the participation of Syrian opposition groups in the Geneva II peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow prioritises the need to get “rational members” of the opposition groups onboard.

Lavrov called on Western partners “who hold bigger sway with the opposition” to persuade the Syrian rebel groups to take part in the upcoming peace talks brokered by Russia and the US.

“We work with everyone, but the bigger influence on the opposition is exerted by our Western colleagues and key Middle Eastern states,” Lavrov said on Tuesday.

The foreign minister was addressing a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

“While this whole business drags on, the radical, Jihadist elements of the opposition, like Al-Nusra Front and others, are gaining in strength,” he said.

Peter Lavelle, host of CrossTalk, a programme on Russia Today says the West simply does not have the power to influence most of the rebel factions on the ground.

“The greatest problem is of course is the sad fact that there are many different oppositions against the Assad regime – the majority of them fighting not only against Assad but also to establish a rigid and intolerant religious state,” Lavelle told The BRICS Post.

“It is also impossible to believe that Saudi Arabia will support any meaningful peace process in Syria. Moscow can bring Assad to the table, but it unlikely western backed players will sit down to negotiate in good faith,” he added.

In a recent interview with an Italian TV station, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed his commitment to the new UN resolution, that was drafted after Russia’s proposal of averting the US military strike on Syria gained acceptability.

“We joined the international agreement for preventing the use and the acquirement of chemical weapons before that resolution came to light. The main part of the Russian initiative based on our will to do so. Of course we have the will because in 2003 we had proposed in the United Nations Security Council to get rid of those weapons in the Middle East, to have a chemical weapon free zone in the Middle East,” said President Assad.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a draft resolution on Friday imposing binding obligations on the Syrian government to eliminate its chemical weapons programme for the first time since unrest began there in March 2011.

The resolution rules out any use of force, Lavrov said Friday, adding that any possible use of force in the future under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII would require a new resolution, if there is “conclusive and unequivocal proof” of noncompliance.

The team of 20 inspectors from the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday to implement the UN resolution.

Russia has already vowed financial support to the future OPCW effort in Syria.

Lavrov said on Monday that Russian experts were “ready to partake in all aspects of future activities – in inspections and in administrative structures that might be set up to coordinate activities between the UN and the OPCW on site, as well as in structures that would possibly be set up to provide [the inspectors’] security.”

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies