'India should be part of Geneva II peace conference on Syria'

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New Delhi, June 7: In order to improve the prospects for peace in Syria, Russian foreign policy experts have called for India to take part in the Geneva II peace conference.

In a video conference Thursday on the "Situation in Syria and the Peace Conference Geneva II" between participants in New Delhi and Moscow, organised by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Russian speakers said that in context of the reality of a disunited opposition, India could help untangle the knots in the Syrian civil war.

"India can bring in a balance to the situation where there is extreme disunity among opposition groups and international stake-holders with conflicting interests,"

A meeting was convened in London Thursday to discuss preparations for the Geneva II peace conference, which has been postponed until at least July because of the difficulties in convening it.

The Syrian government has said it will attend the forthcoming peace conference, while the opposition remains divided over whether to take part in any negotiations with Syrian President Basher al Assad's government.

"BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) group of emerging economies have an increasing role in resolution of such threats to stability in a vital region like the Middle East," said Vladimir Evseev, director of the Centre for Public Policy Research, Moscow.

"The positions of Russia and India on many issues saves us from going down the pitfall of a unipolar world," he added.

The US and Russia agreed last month that the goal of the negotiations is the creation by mutual consent of a transitional governing body in Syria "which would exercise full executive powers".

The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said Wednesday it would no longer be possible for the Geneva peace conference to be held this month, owing to obstacles from the Syrian opposition.

The US, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are parties in the talks.

"The Geneva II conference comes at a time when the conflict is going from bad to worse," said Fazzur Rehman Siddiqui, research fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs.

"India's position has been that before anything else the killings must stop and there should be a ceasefire, and whatever solution must be led by Syria, not imposed by other countries," Siddiqui said.

Russia and Iran have not taken part in the peace forum, while Egypt and other Arab countries want Iran to be invited to the Geneva conference, a proposal which the US and Britain oppose.

Foreign policy analyst Nivedita Das Kundu of the Indian Council of Social Science Research said that having noted the call for India to be part of the peace process, she was in favour of communicating this to the Indian authorities for their active consideration.


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