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Russia & U.S. talks on Syria
Russia & U.S. talks on Syria

Russia: Syria peace conference already hitting snags

(Dp-news)

Agencies- A Russian official said on Saturday there are disagreements over who has the right to take part in a Syrian peace process, Russian news agencies reported, suggesting this could impede efforts to organize an international conference.



"It is too early to say whether it will be a conference or something else," a high-ranking Russian diplomatic source, who participated in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, was quoted as saying.



Russia said there was disagreement over who should represent the opposition in a Syrian peace process.



The Russian diplomatic source said there is broad agreement that the situation in Syria is dire but "beyond that there are very many differences: who can take part in this format, who is legitimate and who is not legitimate," Itar-Tass reported.



"It is obvious that this cannot be done without representatives from the opposition but the question is, what opposition," he said, arguing that the opposition in Syria was not united and therefore could not speak with one voice.



"It is unlikely before the end of May," said the source. "This is a very complicated matter," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "It's unrealistic to set some kind of a tight timeframe."

The Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking after talks with Cameron in Sochi, said "practical steps" were discussed, without elaborating. But the Russian leader said Syria must preserve its independence and territorial integrity.

"We have a common interest in putting an immediate end to violence in that country and launching the peace settlement in preserving Syria as an integral and sovereign state," Putin said.

In turn, the British Prime Minister David Cameron said both countries agree that they should actively assist in a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

"The [Russian] president and I have agreed that as permanent members of the UN, we must help drive this process, working with partners in the region and beyond, not just bringing the regime and opposition together at one negotiating table but Britain, Russia, America, and other countries helping shape a transitional government that all Syrians can trust to protect them," Cameron said.

Cameron added that Britain and Russia are concerned that violence and extremism could spill from Syria into the region.
"It's no secret that we have had different views on how best to handle the situation," Cameron said. "But we share fundamental aims to end the conflict, to stop Syria from fragmenting, to let the Syrian people choose who governs them and to prevent the growth of violent extremism."



Britain supports the Syrian rebels and wants to lift a European Union arms embargo, while Russia has been a longtime ally and arms supplier to the Syrian regime.



London wants Syria`s President, Bashar al-Assad, to step down and is pushing for a Syrian arm embargo to be lifted in order to supply weapons to the country’s rebels, despite Al Qaida associated Al-Nusra Front being among them.



But Moscow has been pushing against any foreign help for either government or opposition forces in the country.



Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had announced on Tuesday that they would seek to organize a conference on Syria and expressed hope it could be held this month.



The conference will most likely to take place by the end of the month, and would try to facilitate a solution to the Syrian crisis through political dialog.

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