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Transcript of the press conference by Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, Geneva, 5 June 2013

5 June 2013

Transcript of press conference
by Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi
Geneva, 5 June 2013

JSRS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am very grateful to you for your patience and regret that it has taken us a little bit of time before we came down to speak to you. So the statement I am making is the following:

The purpose of the trilateral meeting today between the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations was to build on the important step forward made on the 7th May 2013 between Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry in Moscow.

I am grateful to Deputy Ministers Bogdanov and Gatilov, and Under-Secretary of State Sherman, and their delegations, for coming to Geneva today, to discuss with us the necessary preparations for convening an international conference on Syria. I am very happy with the constructive nature of our discussions today and I believe we have made further positive steps towards the convening of a conference.

We all firmly agreed that a political solution to the crisis in Syria is the only solution possible, and is extremely urgent. The catastrophe on the ground is alarming and I think you know as much about it as I do, if not more. That tragedy has got to come to an end, for the sake of Syria and its people.

Evidently, there is still a lot of work to do to bring a conference about. For this reason, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to hold this conference in June. We will be continuing our consultations with Russia and the United States to see about windows of opportunity to hold the conference as soon as possible – hopefully, in July. We will work intensively over the next few weeks, and we will meet again here in Geneva on the 25th June.

We have agreed that the “Geneva Conference on Syria” will be held under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Russian Federation and the United States, being the initiating states of this conference, will play an important role throughout the process.

The goal of the conference will be to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Syria through a comprehensive agreement between the Government of Syria and the Syrian opposition for the full implementation of the Action Group Communique of the 30th of June 2012, and in particular, all aspects of the Agreed Principles and Guidelines for a Syrian-led transition which it contains and these are, I think, the words that came into through that Communique.

Central to this exercise, as also specified in the 30th of June 2012 Communique, is the creation by mutual consent of a Transitional Governing body, which would exercise full executive powers.

The conference would begin with a high-level meeting over two days for the non-Syrian participants as well as delegations representing the Syrian Government and the Syrian opposition, and that part will be chaired and opened by the Secretary-General. That first segment of the conference would be followed by intensive negotiations between the two Syrian parties, which I would facilitate.

I very much welcome the support Russia and the United States have committed to provide for my efforts throughout that process. I will be fully counting on them and on many others in the very difficult work ahead. I look forward to continuing consultations with a wide range of interlocutors in addition to the Russians and the Americans to build the momentum that we have started here today.

Thank you very much. I will take a couple of questions.

Q: [partly inaudible] Mr. Brahimi, why couldn't you go further today? The 25th is far away and the situation in the field is tragic.

JSRS: You are absolutely right. The situation in Syria is absolutely tragic. I think it is embarrassing for us that we are not capable of holding this conference already. But as you know, the opposition has to complete a lot of work to get ready for this conference. I think that they are doing that. And until the opposition is ready, all we can do is wait. Of course I encourage them, push them, help them get there, but obviously the conference can’t take place without them.

Q: [in Arabic, unofficial translation]. Did you notice in your talks with the Americans and the Russians that there is an understanding on the transitional period and what will become of Bashar al Assad, and another question, what is the real problem behind announcing the date of these negotiations?

JSRS: [in Arabic, unofficial translation]. You would like us to resolve the problem with you now and then go home. The Russian and American delegations who met with us today came with the full intention to cooperate between them and with us and they affirmed, in a way that did not leave any place for doubt, their insistence on working in order to hold this conference in the shortest time possible. As I had mentioned, this conference cannot be held without Syrian delegations. The Syrian delegations have not been formed yet.

Q: [partly inaudible] Mr. Brahimi, did the outcome of the meeting today fulfill your expectations? What were the sticking points in your discussion?

JSRS: This is the third time, once in Arabic, that I say the only sticking point is that the Syrian component of the conference - you know this conference, is really about the Syrians, about the Syrians getting together. The Americans and the Russians have agreed in Moscow on the 7th of May and everybody has supported that - and the Syrian sides, I think, have given their, expressed their interest in this - is to get the Syrians sides, without pre-conditions, to see how they can implement the communiqué of the 30th of June. This is what it is all about. And the Syrian sides are not ready. So it is not a sticking point in the room above, but the Syrians are not ready.

Q [in Arabic, unofficial translation]: Who will choose the Syrian opposition that will participate in this conference ?

JSRS: [in Arabic, unofficial translation]: There are discussions ongoing between the Syrians and in cooperation with different regional and international parties to reach a Syrian delegation that is acceptable to the opposition parties in Syria. Thank you very much.