Russia and the United States agreed on Tuesday to hold an international conference in an effort to end the civil war in Syria. The conference will possibly be at the end of the month.
Despite their differences in opinion over Syria, the agreement was announced by Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and his American counterpart, John Kerry, following talks in Moscow. They also announced that the Syrian government and the armed opposition must both be invited to participate.
The purpose of the convention is to revive an agreement reached in Geneva last June concerning the formation of a transitional government in Syria which has not been put into effect because it seals the fate of Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.
In a joint press conference with Lavrov, Kerry said, “The alternative is that there is even more violence; the alternative is that Syria heads closer to an abyss, if not over the abyss and into chaos.”
He added, “The task now is to convince the government and all opposition groups to sit at the negotiating table.”
Kerry also said that the decision regarding who would attend the conference should be left up to the Syrians, pointing out that it must be held “as soon as practically possible, hopefully by the end of the month.” Neither ministers mentioned where the conference would be held.
Kerry also said the fate of U.S. legislation calling for the United States to arm the Syrian rebels would depend on evidence of the use of chemical weapons in the conflict, as well as on what progress is made towards a political resolution.
On his part, Lavrov said the aim of the conference is “to persuade both the government and the opposition… to fully implement the Geneva communiqué” on creating a transitional government.