Russia endorses Egyptian-led regional group on Syria

CAIRO Mon Nov 5, 2012 5:47pm IST

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walk during their meeting in Moscow October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walk during their meeting in Moscow October 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Related Topics

CAIRO (Reuters) - Russia on Monday endorsed an Egyptian initiative to reconvene four Middle East powers to try to resolve the Syrian crisis after Saudi Arabia failed to show up for the last two meetings of the group, blunting its clout.

Cairo launched talks involving countries that include three opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - and Iran, a staunch ally in his conflict with rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Riyadh, which has long tussled with Tehran for regional influence, sent a representative to preparatory talks on September 10 but skipped two subsequent ministerial meetings.

"We fully support the regional quartet initiative that President Mursi has launched to resolve the Syrian crisis," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after discussions with Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr in Cairo.

"All major players including five members of the (U.N.) Security Council have agreed on the Geneva Declaration. All the participants have agreed to push both sides in Syria to a ceasefire. We are trying to work with both sides, the government and the opposition."

The Geneva Declaration, which was agreed in June 30 when Kofi Annan was the international mediator, called for a transitional administration in Syria but did not specify what role, if any, Assad - an ally of Russia - would have.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all said Assad must leave power. Iran has said Syria's problems must be solved by dialogue and elections. Mursi himself has been strident statements against Assad, including at a conference in Tehran.

Russia has long been Syria's major arms supplier and has blocked attempts to isolate Assad with U.N. sanctions, a move Western powers say would help stop the violence and foster a genuine reform process.

Moscow has opposed what it calls foreign interference in the Syria crisis and says Western calls for Assad to leave power has abetted violence by the insurgents.

Ever since Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi first announced plans for the initiative in August, diplomats have questioned whether the regional quartet could reach any substantive agreement, given the diverse views within it.

Some analysts say Egypt's main goal may have been to put Cairo back on the map as a leading player in regional diplomacy.

(Reporting by Marwa Awad; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:

26/11 Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Lakhvi's Bail

Lakhvi's Bail

Pakistan court bails man accused of masterminding Mumbai attack.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Coal Unions

Coal Unions

Coal India workers threaten five-day strike, stokes output worries.  Full Article 

Space Programme

Space Programme

ISRO tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market.  Full Article 

Peshawar attack

Peshawar Attack

Some Pakistan militants denounce school attack, amid national outrage.  Full Article 

Uber Again

Uber Again

Uber driver in Boston charged with kidnapping and rape.  Full Article 

Discounts

Discounts

Dealers offer gold discount for first time in five months.  Full Article 

"PK" in Cinemas

"PK" in Cinemas

Secret of year's "biggest" Bollywood film is its plot.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage