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Russia doubts mid-November date for Syria peace talks

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif By Steve Gutterman MOSCOW | Tue Oct 1, 2013 12:35pm EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia expressed doubt on Tuesday that Western nations can persuade Syrian opposition representatives to take part in an international peace conference in time for it to take place in mid-November. The doubts of Damascus’s most important ally followed remarks in which the international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the target date of mid-November was “not 100 percent certain” and cited disunity among rebel forces. “Until recently we hoped our Western partners, who undertook to bring the opposition to the conference, could do it quite quickly, but they were unable to do it quickly, and I don’t know whether they will be able to do so by mid-November,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. A pledge by the Syrian government to abandon chemical arms has increased prospects for the peace conference, proposed by Russia and the United States in May, to go ahead. U.N. Security Council powers hope it can be held in mid-November. Lavrov said it must be organized soon since “radicals and jihadists are strengthening their positions” in Syria. “The task is to not lose any more time, and to bring to the negotiating table with the government those opposition groups that … think not about creating a caliphate in Syria or just seizing power and using it at their will, but about the fate of their country,” Lavrov said after meeting Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Lavrov also called into question the thoroughness of a U.N. chemical weapons mission after suggesting that it had not examined a site outside of Aleppo where Russia and the Syrian government say rebel forces likely used chemical weapons. “The commission recently returned (to Syria) and already announced that it finished its work and is returning to New York,” said Lavrov. “As far as I understand, they examined several more places where there are claims chemical weapons were used near Damascus. And as before, the commission did not travel to the outskirts of Aleppo, where a serious incident of the use of chemical weapons occurred on March 19.” Syrian rebels blame Assad’s government for that attack. Russian experts visited the location earlier this year and took samples of material from the site that were later analyzed at a Russian laboratory certified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Russia’s U.N.

headquarters, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Photo: Jason DeCrow Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addresses the 68th session… Font Page 1 of 1 MOSCOW (AP) “Reasonable” Syrian rebels could take part in prospective peace talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad ‘s regime, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists during a press conference that the West should help encourage those rebels who don’t harbor “extremist or terrorist views” to join the talks to settle the 2 -year conflict. “The goal now is to waste no more time and seat those reasonable opposition members at the discussion table with the government,” said Lavrov. “Those who aren’t thinking about founding a caliphate on Syrian territory, who aren’t thinking only about how to seize power and then use it at their own discretion.” The U.N. Security Council, which last week endorsed an international plan for Syria to destroy its chemical weapons, has called for a peace conference to be convened as soon as possible. Russia has been Assad’s key ally, protecting him from the U.N. sanctions. Moscow has initiated the chemical disarmament plan for Syria to avert a U.S. military strike against Syria over a chemical attack against Syrian civilians, which the West has blamed on Assad’s forces. The fighting that began in March 2011 has claimed over 100,000 lives and forced millions of Syrians to flee the violence, according to the United Nations.

Russia – The Future of HNWIs to 2016: The Land of Oil and Gas

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