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article imageOp-Ed: US and Russia meet again to discuss Syria peace conference

By Ken Hanly     Jul 2, 2013 in Politics
Brunei - In spite of the fact that neither side in the Syria conflict shows much interest in a political solution at present, US and Russia have again met to try and arrange a framework for a peace conference to find a negotiated political resolution.
The two countries, agreed to hold a peace conference on Syria probably some time after August that would attempt to find a peaceful political resolution to the two-year old conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US and Russia have agreed on the framework of an agreement for the talks. Kerry said: “We both agreed that our countries have the ability to be able to make a difference if we can pull together in this effort”. Kerry said they both also agree that "the conference should happen sooner rather than later" to find a peaceful solution to end the Syrian violence.
Kerry met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov while they were both at the meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Brunei. Kerry said that there are still matters that need to worked out over the next few days with the Russians and that the talks might not occur until after August. Originally talks were to be held last month. Rebel groups however said they would not participate until Assad was gone and had other conditions as well.
The US and Russia have disagreed all along as to how the conflict might be resolved. Russia supports Assad while the US wants regime change and agrees with the rebels that Assad must go. Lavrov said the recent decision by the US to send arms to the rebels is a "disaster" for prospects of a peaceful resolution. In Moscow, deputies to Lavrov said that one main hurdle to convening the conference was uncertainty over Syrian opposition participation. The deputies insisted that the United States must convince Assad's foes to attend the conference and negotiate.
Kerry said that both the US and Russia share a desire to end the war peacefully if possible. Kerry insisted that whoever was winning was not determinative of the outcome of negotiations because a transition government is required. But surely whoever is winning will have the biggest input into the makeup of the transition government. After his meeting with Lavrov Kerry claimed that the two countries had the level of seriousness and ability to bring about peace. Lavrov would not talk to US reporters after meeting with Kerry.
The peace conference would be a continuation of the process originally agreed to in June 2012 in Geneva. The process calls for both sides to cease violence and initiate a “Syrian-led political process leading to a transition.” Although the final communique by countries that included China and the UN, as well as the US and Russia, called for a "firm timetable", no dates were ever set. Since the communique the death toll have gone from about 10,000 to almost 100,000.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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