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Russia insists on Saudi and Iranian participation in Geneva II

January 30, 2014 at 10:00 am

Russia’s foreign minister has stressed the importance of Saudi and Iranian participation in the Geneva II Conference on the Syrian issue. Sergei Lavrov insisted that all countries with influence on the state and non-state actors in Syria should take part in Geneva.

Speaking to a Russian newspaper on Monday night, Lavrov said, “Initially, without any exception, it is important for all countries which affect Syrian decision-making, to participate in the Conference.” He mentioned Saudi Arabia and Iran by name because both of these countries represent the two sides in support of the government and the opposition; the minister noted that Iran supports the former and Saudi the latter.

Meanwhile, Russia Today TV reported that Russian, American, UN and Arab League representatives are planning to meet on November 25. “After this, there will be continuous contact between the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Arabs and Turks regarding Geneva II.” Lavrov, said Russia Today, has described the Arabs and Turks as “the external circle of the conference”.

Commenting on the sectarian conflict among Muslims, the foreign minister said that he hoped that Iran-Saudi disputes do not heighten the tension between Sunnis and Shia. “Russia,” he said, “has never attempted to defend any side involved in internal Muslim disputes.”