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Ban & Lavrov in Moscow (RIA Novosti)
Ban & Lavrov in Moscow (RIA Novosti)

UN Chief discuss Syria Peace Conference in Russia

(DP-News - agencies)

Moscow- The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the proposed peace conference on Syria to happen as soon as possible. The UN Secretary General has met on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks centered on the crisis in Syria.



After talks, Ban said it was important to "not lose momentum" and dates for it were being "actively discussed".



Stressing that a political solution is the only way to end the Syria crisis, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that an international conference proposed by Russia and the United States should be held as soon as possible so as not to lose momentum.



“It is my sincere hope that we can convene an international conference on Syria as soon as possible to help parties come to the negotiating table,” Ban said at a joint press conference in Sochi with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.



“I thanked the Foreign Minister for working with US Secretary of State Kerry on finding a way forward,” said Ban. “Now our challenge is to build on the momentum that Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry have helped to generate.”



He added that although a date for the conference has not yet been set, it should take place soon. “We will try to fix a date as soon as possible. We should not lose this momentum generated by Minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry. There is high expectation that this meeting should be held as soon as possible.”



For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it is important that Syrians decide for themselves who will represent the conflicting sides.

"Now the most important is to understand who from the Syrian sides is ready to participate in this conference," he said. "Without that, nothing will happen. And the second task is to determine the circle of participants among countries other than Syria."

Lavrov said, however, that no "terrorists" should be invited.
"I wouldn't exclude anyone. With the exception of those who are not really opposition activists, but more like terrorists," Lavrov said.

"The Nusra Front is a well-known structure which the Americans put on the terrorist list. Its leaders openly say that they receive orders from Al-Qaeda. There are also other terrorist groups. Of course, they should not be part of the dialogue." he added.

"We are talking about the political opposition, even the armed opposition -- while understanding at the same time that terrorists have no place at the negotiating table."

Lavrov also said all of Syria's neighbors should attend any peace conference, including Iran.
"Iran has repeatedly underlined its solidarity with the Syrian government," he said.



"Iranian officials pay regular visits to Damascus, so there is no doubt about that. I'd like to stress once again that no geopolitical bias should be an obstacle to Iran taking part in preparing for and holding the conference [on Syria] from the very beginning." Lavrov stated.



Last week, following talks in Moscow between Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, the two countries announced they would work together to achieve a political solution to the Syria crisis, and agreed to convene an international conference aimed at achieving this goal.

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