Russia on Monday urged the United States to do everything in its power to bring the Syrian opposition to peace talks after a key group said it would not attend a proposed conference in Geneva.
“We very much expect our American partners and other countries, which not only have influence on various opposition groups but also ... encourage these opposition groups to continue fighting, to realize their responsibility for creating conditions for performing their share of the work for convening Geneva 2,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
George Sabra, the president of the Syrian National Council, the biggest member of the opposition National Coalition, said on Sunday that the group would not attend suggested peace talks in Geneva.
First proposed in May, the Geneva-2 talks have been repeatedly pushed back and are now expected in take place in mid-November.
Sabra said that it was impossible to carry out negotiations given the suffering of people on the ground.
Lavrov said that Sabra's statement highlighted the urgency of holding the conference.
“The main obstacle on this path remains our partners' inability to make the Syrian opposition, which they are looking after, go to Geneva and sit at the negotiating table with the government.”
By contrast, he said, Russia was doing its share of the work to help convene the conference.
“We are exerting influence on Damascus, it gives tangible results.”
Moscow has repeatedly said that for the peace talks to be successful, the opposition should speak with one voice. Lavrov warned Monday that the opposition was essentially disintegrating.
“The National Coalition is losing its positions. It is losing its influence,” he said.
Western nations led by the United States and Russia have been pushing the regime of Bashar al-Assad to meet for talks on a negotiated solution to the two and a half year-old conflict, which has killed some 115,000 people.
Russia calls on U.S. to bring Syria opposition to peace talks