Qatar and Russia agree on Syria peace plans

Foreign ministers discuss what is needed to encourage Syrian government and rebels to enter dialogue.

Men inspect a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria''s President Bashar al-Assad in Sheikh Meskeen near Deraa
The Syrian conflict has claimed more than 250,000 lives since March 2011, and displaced millions [Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters]

Qatar and Russia have discussed what is needed to catalyse peace talks between the Syrian opposition and President Bashar al-Assad’s government, according to the Russian foreign minister.

Addressing journalists in Moscow on Friday alongside the Qatari foreign minister, Khalid al-Attiyah, Sergey Lavrov said: “We discussed in detail what’s necessary to be done to implement the agreements on the Syrian settlement”.

Lavrov did not provide any further details.

Last week, the UN Security Council gave its unanimous support to a plan to end the Syrian conflict by summoning rebels and the regime to the negotiating table.

Ceasefire proposed

With crucial backing from the US and Russia, the plan aims to install a ceasefire in Syria, possibly in January, when talks in Geneva, Switzerland, could also begin.

Unlike Russia, however, Qatar has said that Assad should step down immediately for peace to prevail.


Speaking to reporters after the talks, al-Attiyah accused Assad of supporting terrorist groups while Lavrov insisted that “it’s up to the Syrian people” to decide Assad’s future.

Al-Attiyah added that any further delays to efforts aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict would harm all of the players involved and worsen the humanitarian situation.

“We agreed with Russia that the worsening of this crisis will not benefit either party,” he said.

“We are aware that delays in finding a solution to the crisis is harmful to all parties, first of all the Syrian people.”

Muallem’s remarks

Walid Muallem,Syrian foreign minister, said on Thursday that his government is ready to participate in the Geneva dialogue aimed at ending the civil war.

“Our delegation will be ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation,” he said.

The Syrian conflict has claimed more than 250,000 lives since March 2011, and displaced millions.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Sharp, reporting from Moscow, said: “They [Qatar and Russia] have the same goals, but they don’t share the same ideas on Assad’s part in these talks at all.

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“Qatar’s foreign minister has said Assad has no legitimacy. But these talks do give an idea of the road ahead. Both agreed that a political settlement is important. [Attiyah] said without it, they could be locked into a vicious cycle.”

He said Russia was working to form a list of opposition members and parties who would “sit with the Syrian government and start talks”, adding that Russia was also “involved in weeding out groups it considers as terrorists”.

Russia began its aerial campaign in Syria on September 30 to support Assad’s government in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Qatar’s has ruled out boots on the ground , saying that financial aid is more needed in the war-torn country.

Source: Al Jazeera