Syrian opposition accepts invitation to Moscow for open and friendly dialogue
The first round of talks between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition is coming to an end in Geneva. The Voice of Russia was informed that immediately after this, this weekend, a delegation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is going to visit Moscow. Negotiations are scheduled for February 3 and 4.
In an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia on the phone from Geneva, one of the leaders of the National Coalition, the closest ally of its leader, Ahmad Jarba, and head of the Democratic Tribune movement Michel Kilo spoke about the composition and goals of the delegation, the results of the first round of the negotiations in Geneva, and the forthcoming second round.
He was interviewed by Elena Suponina, head of the Center for Asia and the Near East of the Russian Institute of Strategic studies.
Mr. Kilo, there is information that a delegation of the National Coalition is about to visit Moscow soon.
Yes, Moscow has sent us an invitation, and we’ve accepted it. It was agreed that this visit will take place after the negotiations in Geneva. Anyway, we’ve promised it. So, there is a high probability that the information about the visit is correct, and I personally will be very happy if it takes place.
And what will the composition of the delegation be? Will President of the National coalition Ahmad Jarba attend as well?
An agreement was reached that the delegation will be headed by President of the National Coalition Ahmad Jarba. He will be accompanied by all other leaders of the Coalition, including Secretary General Badr Jamus, members of the delegation at the talks in Geneva, and many councilors and heads of movements included in the coalition.
Are you going to join the delegation?
If it’s God’s will, I will come, too.
Since the invitation came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, you willcarry out a meeting with him,of course, won’t you?
Yes, if the visit takes place, then, first of all, we will conduct talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as Deputy Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. These meetings will be very important, but at the same time, we expect that it will be possible to talk to other representatives of the Russian elite, too.
Why did you refrain from a visit previously, and why do you suddenly plan such a visitnow?
About three months ago, we in the National coalition decided on the need to conduct negotiations with all the parties that are friendly to us and are interested in a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis. In many aspects, Russia is the successor of the Soviet Union for us, and it was our great friend. Recently, we’ve noticed that Russia strives to maintain an open dialogue with us, tries to find areas of common interest, to understand our problems. We welcome that. The Syrian opposition is ready to develop such a dialogue with Russia.
Russia and the United States have just promised that they would put further pressure on the parties of the conflict in Syria in order for a peaceful agreement to be reached. Do you fear that you will be subject to such pressure in Moscow?
No, there is no fear. We will very carefully listen to all that the Russians have to say. We hope that we will find common grounds on how to tackle the Syrian issue.
You will arrive after the first round of the peace talks in Geneva, which lasted just over a week. What issues are the most urgent today?
The most important issue concerns the execution of the resolutions 2118 of the UN Security Council, adopted back in September 2013. It proclaims the necessity of creating a transitional governing body in Syria exercising full authority. We will discuss the issues of forming this transitional body, its powers and tasks.
During the first round of talks in Geneva you have also discussed humanitarian issues. Is there any progress?
Unfortunately, there is no progress either on humanitarian or other issues that were discussed. We hoped that at least food will be delivered to some regions in Syria, but it did not happen.
When will the negotiationsbe resumed after the break?
The date has not been announced officially, but we were informed that the negotiations would be resumed in Geneva on February 9. And the first and most important issue must be the above mentioned issue of forming a transitional governing body in Syria.