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Russia – Lavrov, the peace dealer

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Polina Chernitsa

A number of politicians, both in the West and in the East, say that Kofi Annan’s plan on Syria allegedly presupposes that Russia should put pressure on the Assad regime in order to make it lay down arms.

However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calls attempts to interpret Kofi Annan’s plan like that “a provocation.”

Mr. Lavrov is currently in Iran, and he made this statement when he summed up the results of his meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.

Besides the Syrian problem, another key topic, which the two foreign ministers discussed, was the Iranian nuclear issue.

The news that the Russian foreign minister will visit Iran was announced on Saturday, several days after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing.

One of the aims of Mr. Lavrov’s visit to Iran is to make sure whether Russia’s and Iran’s positions concerning the Iranian nuclear issue correspond. On June 18 and 19, a meeting will take place in Moscow between Iran and the six of mediators over the Iranian nuclear problem – Russia, the US, the UK, France, China and Germany. Iran will be represented by the head of the Iranian Council for National Security Saeed Jalili. The EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will be present at this meeting as well.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expects much from this meeting. Russia insists that the Iranian problem should be solved only by diplomacy, and it hopes that other participants of the coming meeting in Moscow will support this position as well.

During his current visit to Iran, Sergey Lavrov met with Saeed Jalili, and they discussed preparations for the Moscow meeting of mediators.

“My talk with Mr. Jalili made me sure that Iran is ready to jointly look with other countries for a solution of the Iranian nuclear issue, which would suit all the sides,” Mr. Lavrov says. “Russia, in its turn, will also try its best for this dialogue of countries to be held in a friendly atmosphere.”

Another important issue that Sergey Lavrov discussed with Iranian politicians was the situation in Syria. Russia insists that an international conference on the Syrian issue should be held, and that Iran should take part in it.

“I believe, this conference will show, who sincerely supports Kofi Annan’s plan on Syria, and who only pretends to support it,” Mr. Lavrov says.

“Russia’s idea of a conference concerning Syria is to invite all the key foreign countries that are interested in finding a solution for the Syrian conflict, and that can do something to help this conflict be solved by peace,” the Russian foreign minister says. “However, we don’t plan that Syria itself will take part in this conference at first. We are going to invite Syria to join in later, if there is some progress at this conference.”

“My idea is that about 15 countries should take part in this conference,” Mr. Lavrov continues. “The conference may be called a success if all these countries say: yes, we support Kofi Annan’s plan, and we are ready to work for it to be implemented. Let me remind you that both Mr. Annan’s plan and a resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria presuppose that both sides in the Syrian conflict should lay down arms.”

Russia’s and Iran’s positions on the Syrian issue correspond in many points.

Mr. Lavrov denies that, in the Syrian conflict, Russia supports President Assad more than it supports the opposition. Neither does Russia take sides in similar conflicts in other countries as well. The only thing that Russia wants is that in attempts to solve such conflicts, all international laws and norms should be observed.

Jun 13, 2012 22:42 Moscow Time