Russian FM Downplays US Talks, Insists Future of Assad Not Up for Discussion

Talks Continue But No Sign of Progress

by Jason Ditz, December 09, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected reports that the negotiations between Russia and the United States on Syria would end with demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ouster.

“Our position on Syria is well-known,” Lavrov said, adding that the talks were aimed at ending the civil war, not on forcing Assad’s ouster. His US counterpart, Hillary Clinton, insisted at the start of the first day of talks that Assad’s ouster was a given.

The talks began last week in Ireland, and today continued in Geneva, though Lavrov insisted that backing off the demand for Assad’s ouster was a precondition for today’s talks. US officials have yet to comment either way.

This suggests that there probably hasn’t been any real progress, and indeed Lavrov has insisted those portraying a deal as imminent are “trying to distort the facts.”

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