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Syria talks must not imply ‘capitulation’ of regime: Russia

The planned peace conference in Geneva to end the conflict in Syria should not imply any capitulation on the part of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying Tuesday.

“We are categorically against… assertions that the conference should be some kind of public act of capitulation by the government delegation followed by a handing over of power to the opposition,” Lavrov told Kuwaiti news agency KUNA in an interview whose text was published by the Russian foreign ministry.

He said it was essential that the result of the conference should be a transitional government containing both members of opposition groups and also representatives of the current regime.

The United States and Russia have jointly backed holding a major peace conference in Geneva to find a solution to the conflict between the regime and the opposition that has lasted over two years.

But with Washington and Moscow still at odds over their approaches and the opposition wary of the process, so far no date has been set for the conference to be held.

Lavrov lamented that while the idea of the conference had received universal approval, the practical steps being made by participants “leave something to be desired”.

He hit out at the West for undermining the realisation of the conference by giving material support to the rebels and beginning to call for a no-fly zone over Syria.

He said such steps were in line with the actions on the ground of Al-Qaeda and other extremists who wanted to prevent the holding of the Syria conference and bringing peace to Syria.