World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia said on Tuesday it would be ready to host a new meeting of world powers on ending the conflict in Syria and proposed broadening the talks to invite other countries, including Iran.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow had made the proposal at an international meeting in Geneva on June 30.
"From our side, I can only confirm that we would welcome the organisation of a regular session of an 'Action Group' in Moscow ... In any case we see the relevance in carrying out such an event," Interfax news agency quoted Bogdanov as saying.
International powers agreed in Geneva that a transitional government should be set up in Syria but left open the question of what role President Bashar al-Assad might play.
The foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members - Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain - all attended along with Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Bogdanov repeated Russia's position that any similar meetings in future should include other countries that have influence over the Syrian situation - namely Iran and Saudi Arabia.
"Moscow regrets that because of the positions of a number of our partners Iran and Saudi Arabia were not present in Geneva," he said.
Washington and its allies - are trying to isolate Iran to force it to curb its nuclear activities - firmly oppose allowing Tehran to attend such meetings.
Syria accuses the Sunni-led Gulf monarchies, including Saudi Arabia, of supporting unrest among its Sunni majority.
Opposition representatives who were in Moscow for talks said on Monday they would take part in talks with the Syrian government only if there was a change in Syria's leadership, a precondition which Russia rejects and one which is not stipulated in the peace plan set out by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.
Russian news agencies said on Monday that Russia planned to suspend arms shipments to Syria, possibly signalling a shift in its stance towards Assad, whom it has defended from harsher sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.
Repeating Moscow's affirmations that it is not backing Assad, Bogdanov said Russia was not "linked to any concrete personalities".
Last Mod: 10 Temmuz 2012, 13:28