Russia says Syria talks must not focus solely on transition

by Reuters
Friday, 14 February 2014 08:59 GMT

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MOSCOW, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Syrian peace talks must not focus solely on the creation of a transitional governing body, Russia's foreign minister said on Friday, accusing backers of the opposition for pushing for "regime change".

As the second round of talks in Geneva entered its final day , Sergei Lavrov suggested that the opposition and its Western and Arab backers were trying to derail the negotiations.

"We have the impression that when those who ensured opposition participation in this process were calling for talks to focus on delivering on the Geneva Communique in its full, in fact they meant regime change," Lavrov said, referring to a document that resulted from the first round of talks.

"Because all they want to talk about is creating a transitional governing body," he said at a joint news conference after talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

His remarks once again signalled Moscow's support for President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has resisted discussion of a transitional body and wants to focus on combating "terrorism" - Assad's term for rebel forces.

The Syria talks are seeking an end to a three-year civil war based on the June 2012 Geneva Communique.

That document calls for a peace process that would include the creation of transitional government body formed by mutual consent of the Syrian government and opposition. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Alexandra Hudson; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Robin Pomeroy)

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