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Russia Bows out of 'Friends of Syria Group' Meeting – Foreign Ministry

Russia will not participate in a meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria Group in Tunisia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Tuesday.

Russia will not participate in a meeting of Friends of the so-called Syria Group in Tunisia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Tuesday.

Last week during an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council at the level of Foreign Ministers, Tunisia initiated the first international conference Friends of Syria. Earlier the Arabic newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat, citing a statement by Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesselam, reported that Russia would participate in the event.

“Officially we were not informed who will take part in the conference or what the agenda will be. Most importantly, it is unclear what the actual goal of this initiative is," Lukashevich said.

He said that there is some information that several opposition groups have been invited to Tunisia but representatives of Syrian government have not. "Serious questions arise about the final document of the meeting. According to some information, a small group of countries, without knowledge of others, will be asked to simply stamp a document that is already in the process of being written," Lukashevich said.

“Taking into account all these circumstances, we consider it is not possible for us to participate in the meeting,” he added.

Lukashevich said that according to the report, “it seems that we are talking about slapping together some kind of international coalition as was the case in organizing the Libya Contact Group in order to support one side against the other in an internal conflict.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Russia is for all members of the world community to act as friends of all Syrian people and not only part of it.”

“We suggest that members of the Security Council ask the UN Secretary General to send his special envoy to Syria to negotiate with the government and all other parties to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian goods,” the statement said.

Syria for almost a year is living under continuous anti-government protests. According to the UN, the total number of victims in the country has exceeded 5,400 people. The Syrian authorities said that over 2,000 military and law enforcement officials were killed in clashes with well-armed militants.


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