Last updated: 19 February, 2014

Gulf and Russia disagree on Syrian conflict

Gulf Arab states and Russia expressed “different” views on the three-year conflict in Syria at a strategic dialogue in Kuwait City on Wednesday, both sides said.

Moscow is the most important foreign backer of President Bashar al-Assad. Gulf Arab states are among the leading backers of the rebels trying to oust him.

“Regarding the situation in Syria, the views of the two sides were different, but they agreed to continue contacts in a bid to reach a common understanding,” Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah told a press conference.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed there were differences of opinion but said both sides were committed to a peaceful settlement.

“We have some differences on the conflict in Syria … but we are moving for the same goal for a peaceful solution,” Lavrov said.

“The differences were insignificant as we focussed on the shared factors which call for making Syria safe and prosperous.”

The Russian minister called for a third round of Geneva II peace talks between the government and the opposition and rejected the views of those who said the negotiations had collapsed.

“The dialogue is progressing quite hard, which does not make us happy, but no one says that there has been a failure and the door should be slammed,” Lavrov said.

“Everybody understands that there can be no other way out but to negotiate based on principles previously agreed,” he added referring to a transition plan agreed by world powers at a previous meeting in Geneva in June, 2012.

Lavrov charged that those who said the Geneva talks had failed were secretly still seeking a military solution.

“There are a growing number of attempts to present Geneva 2 as a failure, so probably someone is conspiring a military option. This is inadmissible,” he said.

A second round of Geneva II talks ended last week with government and opposition delegations agreeing on an agenda for a third round but setting no date.