“We have a very good chance tomorrow in Geneva to find a common denominator and find a path forward in order to stimulate the implementation of of Annan’s Plan from both sides of the Syrian [conflict],” Lavrov said during a briefing after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in St. Petersburg.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the Syrian government is ready to withdraw its armed forces from the country’s cities in parallel with the forces of the Syrian opposition.
Russia has said the Geneva conference should include all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Syria’s neighbors (Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon), as well as key players in the region (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran) and international organizations (League of Arab States, European Union).
According to UN estimates, some 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Lodon-based organization with a network of activists in Syria, has put the death toll at 12,000.
UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan on Friday appealed to participants in a Saturday meeting on Syria to “act in unison” to end the bloodshed in the Middle East country, pointing to deep involvement by external powers which is contributing to a worsening situation there.
“Many external powers are deeply involved,” the former UN chief wrote in an article for The Washington Post, noting “Despite formal unity behind the six-point plan, mutual mistrust has made them work at cross-purposes.”
The six-point peace plan devised by Annan has won widespread support but has failed to halt the raging violence and bloodshed in Syria. The envoy blamed the plan’s non-implementation for its failure, and lamented the situation in the Arab nation as one that “could hardly be more grave.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that his country is “in a state of a real war,” calling for all polices and directives directed to win the war.
Without naming any countries, Annan said the external powers, ” intentionally or otherwise,” “have encouraged the government and parts of the opposition to believe that force is the only option.”
“This serves no one’s interest — least of all that of the Syrian people,” he asserted.
Annan announced on Wednesday that an Action Group for Syria, involving world powers and regional players, will meet on Saturday in Geneva to identify “steps and measures” to secure full implementation of the peace plan and UN Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including “an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms.”