Russia, US to discuss Syria next week: official

Top Russian and US officials will meet in The Hague next week to discuss preparations for a long-delayed international peace conference on Syria, Russian and US officials said Monday.

"This meeting will take place in the middle of next week in The Hague," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.

The US State Department said the meeting follows an accord reached at August 9 talks in Washington between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries.

The meeting in The Netherlands will also involve Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy on the crisis, an unnamed Russian diplomat separately told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

Neither Gatilov nor the diplomat disclosed which Russian officials would be attending. Washington said it will be represented by Wendy Sherman, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, and the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford.

Moscow and Washington agreed in May to conduct the so-called Geneva 2 talks, which aim to bring together President Bashar al-Assad's allies and the opposition for the first time after two-and-a-half years of conflict.

Gatilov said last week that the Geneva 2 meeting itself would probably not happen until October at the earliest because of a busy diplomatic schedule in September that includes UN meetings in New York.

The negotiations are based on the results of a Syria peace conference held in Geneva in June 2012, when world powers agreed on the need to establish a transition government in the war-torn country.

But the different sides then failed to agree on whether Assad could play a role in forming the new government, and whether his closest representatives could serve on the new interim team.

As a result of that failure and the conference's inability to halt the fighting on the ground, the peace terms were never enforced.

by Kim Dong-Hyun © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Aug 19, 2013

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