February 02, 2013 22:07
Russia confirms it wants regular contacts with Syria opposition coalition
MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on Saturday that Moscow wants to have regular contacts with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
Lavrov met with coalition leader Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib earlier on Saturday on the fringes of an international security conference in Munich.
"I reminded Mr Khatib that, immediately after the election of that coalition and his appointment as its head, we expressed interest in regular contacts. We will be pursuing them," Lavrov said in answering a question from Interfax when meeting with reporters aboard an aircraft that was taking him back to Moscow from Munich.
The minister said his meeting with Khatib had been requested by the latter.
"We talked, and I felt Khatib was interested in having a better understanding of our position," Lavrov said.
The minister mentioned a recent statement by Khatib that the coalition is willing to hold talks with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on certain conditions. "We hailed this," said Lavrov, "it was a very important move, especially in view of the fact that the coalition was created on a platform that involved categorical rejection of any dialogue with the regime."
"Realism has taken the upper hand" in the coalition, Lavrov said.
"Naturally, it doesn't guarantee that there will be any dialogue - to start with, the opposition doesn't have a team of negotiators, [and] there are too many different groups in that coalition for them to be able to reach agreement," he said. However, "their thoughts are going in the right direction."
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