Russia expects int'l conference on Syria
Updated: 2013-08-13 03:51
MOSCOW - Moscow foresees the international conference on Syria could start after September only, a high- ranking Russian diplomat said Monday.
"It would hardly happen in September, because there will be other events, for instance, the UN General Assembly's ministerial week," the Interfax news agency reported, quoting Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.
The Russian diplomat said his country did want to convene the conference as soon as possible.
"But we have to take into account the real circumstances which could affect that forum," the diplomat said, who disclosed that Russia and US representatives would meet late August to discuss details of preparation for the conference.
Gatilov will take part in that meeting, which will be also attended by another Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. They will discuss, among other issues, the composition of the Syrian delegation at the international conference.
"The (Syrian) opposition delegation which would reflect all spectrum of the opposition forces has not been formed yet," Gatilov said.
According to the Russia diplomat, Russia still did not hear the confirmation by the Syrian opposition that its delegation was ready to come to Geneva, venue of the international conference on Syria, without any pre-conditions.
Also, Gatilov said that Russia would welcome Iran's attendance at the Geneva conference.
According to local experts, the main obstacle for the conference to be convened soon is the constantly shifting military balance in the conflict-torn country.
"Geneva conference is a sort of labor sharing between Moscow and Washington in their joint efforts to coerce the sides in the Syrian conflict to start the peace talks, which can only be achieved by restoring military balance," Alexander Shumilin, an expert with the Russian Academy of Science, said at a recent round table discussion in Russia. "Otherwise, each side will press forward anticipating military defeat of the other."