Russia Accepts Annan's Invitation to Int'l Meeting on Syria, Says Iran Must Attendإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has agreed to attend an international meeting on the Syria conflict in Geneva on Saturday, Russia's U.N. envoy said Tuesday.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan wants to hold the meeting of the major powers in Geneva in a final bid to get agreement on a political transition plan for Syria.
Annan has not yet officially announced the meeting, however, and the comments by Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin are the first sign that it will go ahead.
Because of the "grim" situation in Syria "we need to work even harder. What I can tell you is that Sergei Lavrov has officially accepted the invitation to come to the action group meeting in Geneva" on Saturday, Churkin told reporters before Security Council talks on Syria.
"We attach great importance to this meeting. As you know Russia proposed an international conference on Syria and this is very much in line with our thinking," the envoy added.
"I hope that other planned participants are going to be there as well, so we are looking forward to it and we hope that it can provide a powerful impetus for political efforts to put an end to the conflict in Syria."
The United States, Britain, France and China -- the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- have not yet said whether they would attend the Geneva meeting.
Later on Tuesday, Lavrov said that Syria's main regional ally Iran should be invited to the Geneva meeting.
"We believe it (Iran) has to be invited. It should certainly be done," Lavrov told reporters after Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Lavrov said he would take part in the summit, but indicated that the talks without Iran would be less productive.
"You have to use this chance," he said, adding that if Iran is not invited "then all those who can really influence all the main Syrian sides will not be present."
He hinted that there is still a chance Iran might be invited.
"We have an understanding among the most active organizers of the conference," Lavrov said.