New Delhi, Jan 21 IANS | 11 months ago

India, which has always been a votary for dialogue to resolve the Syrian crisis, is to push for Syrians to decide the future of their country at the UN-backed Geneva II talks being held in Montreux in Switzerland Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid left Tuesday to attend the Geneva II conference. He is expected to stress India's stand that it is for the Syrians to chart out their own future and extend Indian support for the peace initiative and offer India's assistance in the implementation of the deliberations of the Syrian parties, said sources.

The Geneva II talks are being held even as Iran has said it will not participate because of the US' "irrational insistence" on setting conditions for it.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has decided the meet would proceed without Iran.

Khurshid is being assisted by senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs. The conference is expected to have ministerial-level participation from all the invited countries on Jan 22-23. This will be followed with political dialogue involving all concerned Syrian political parties and UN representatives.

"Geneva-II is viewed by India as a convergence of the evolved positions of global and regional powers with our own stated position on supporting a comprehensive political settlement of the crisis involving all parties to the conflict," said sources.

India had as preparation for the conference deputed Sandeep Kumar, Joint Secretary (West Asia and North Africa), to visit Syria ahead of Geneva II. It was the first official-level visit since the crisis began in 2011. Kumar had held extensive discussions with various Syrian officials as well as with Hassan Abdul Azim, head of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, the main opposition in Syria. His first-hand assessment has helped to formulate the Indian approach to the conference, said sources.

(Posted on 21-01-2014)

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