Russia urges Syria transition as clashes rage
AFPDAMASCUS--Russia called on Saturday for a political transition in Syria, a day after peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met diplomats from Moscow and Washington and as the deadly conflict claimed yet more lives.
January 13, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The outskirts of the capital were rocked by violence despite Friday's talks, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A day after U.N.-Arab League special envoy Brahimi met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Moscow reiterated its long-held position that only Syrians can decide their own fate.
“In our opinion, the priority task is to immediately stop any violence and bloodshed as well as provide Syrians including internally displaced persons and refugees with humanitarian aid,” a foreign ministry statement said.
But it also added: “At the same time it is necessary to secure the launch of a political transition process in Syria aimed at enshrining in law guaranteed and equal rights of all ethnic-confessional groups of this country.”
Moscow, a key Damascus ally, also reiterated its support for a transition plan that was agreed in Geneva on June 30, 2012, but has since split world powers.
“We proceed from the fact that this consensus-based document remains fully relevant as the only platform to overcome the protracted crisis in Syria,” the foreign ministry said.
In a separate statement, the ministry said Bogdanov also met a Syrian delegation led by Michel Kilo, a prominent anti-regime activist who opposes foreign intervention.
“A common opinion was expressed that the priority task is to immediately stop any violence and launch a nationwide dialogue” in accordance with the Geneva communique, the statement said.
Bogdanov pledged to continue “active contacts” with both Damascus and the opposition, it added.
Despite Friday's talks, the violence raged unabated, as regime warplanes bombarded Mleha just southeast of Damascus, the Observatory said.
“Regime forces used warplanes to bombard the area between Mleha and Jaramana on Saturday a day after rebels assaulted an air force security building there,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.