UNITED NATIONS, March 4 (KUNA) -- Security Council President Vitaly Churkin of Russia on Monday said the only "positive" thing that could happen in Syria was to establish a dialogue between the government and the opposition, and disclosed that American-Russian talks on Syria would resume next week in Europe.
"We believe the main effort of the international community is to try to establish dialogue between the government and the opposition in accordance with the Geneva communique of last June. Let's face it, without a dialogue, nothing positive can happen in Syria," Churkin told a press conference on the Council's programme of work during the month of March.
He conceded that "some differences" continue to exist between Russia and the US on Syria. "However, our contacts with them about the situation in Syria are not entirely meaningless. In fact, it may well be that those contacts, among other things together with (Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar) Brahimi's activities aimed at dialogue, may actually result in establishing this dialogue." He said "we are prepared to continue our contacts with the United States on the situation in Syria," and announced that another meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and his American counterpart William Burns will take place next week somewhere in Europe.
"We make no secret of the fact that our views of the situation and the way to deal with that continue to differ in major ways, and one aspect of it has been reflected by the recent announcement by the US involving the plan to enhance their assistance to the armed groups," he noted.
He said Russia expressed its concern about it and made it clear to the US that the plan is "leading us away from the direction which is required in order to establish dialogue between the government and the opposition." He added that the Council is "following the tragic developments in Syria but the main diplomatic activities are taking place elsewhere." On the Yemeni complaint that Iran is sending weapons destabilize the country, Churkin said, the UN investigation was on going and the Iran Sanctions Committee was supposed to receive a report from the experts group which is probing the case.
"But," he warned, "I would caution you against jumping to conclusions on this matter, because there are some quite murky and weird aspects to the entire situation. We hope we will understand it better when we get that report. But I think too much noise has already been made about it before all the details have become clear." On the deadlock between the Palestinian and Israeli talks, Churkin said "our proposal is that we should do everything in order to end the stagnation. As a first step, what we need to do is to have at least another ministerial meeting of the Quartet." He expressed regret that the Quartet has not been able to meet for almost a year now and this is a "mistake. This is something that the Quartet should be doing and that may help not only to keep things from overheating, but also keep open some prospects for moving towards dialogue and coming to grips with the settlement (between Palestinians and Israelis)." The Council is holding a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan on March 19 at Russia's request. It will be chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Other ministers, representing Council and non Council members, are scheduled to participate.
"We believe this is a good time to assess the situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is entering a particular important phase in its development. There will be elections. Foreign forces are scheduled to withdraw in 2014. The stakes will be very high. It is a good time to have a serious discussion about it in the Council," he said. (end) sj.bs KUNA 042333 Mar 13NNNN