Lavrov: Syrian talks needed without delay

Nov. 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM

CAIRO, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday all parties to the crisis in Syria should sit down in Geneva for the sake of the Syrian people.

"Every day delaying the conference leads to death and people's sufferings," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agency ITAR-Tass. "Thus, it is important to start negotiations in Geneva without delay.

China issued a similar plea Tuesday but added it was frustrated by conditions put forward by the Western-backed Syrian National Council, an opposition group. The council said Monday it would join the peace talks planned for Geneva, Switzerland, provided the Syrian government made humanitarian concessions.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Monday the healthcare system in Syria was collapsing from the strain of civil war. Some people are dying because of this and, without safe access, there's no way for ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent personnel to respond to those in need, he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group which has headquarters in London, said it documented more than 120,000 casualties since the beginning of the conflict in March 18, 2011, through Oct. 30.

Lavrov said there can be no military solution to the crisis.

"Since the beginning of the crisis Russia has pursued a policy towards settling the conflict by political and diplomatic means," he said.

Lavrov made his comments during a state visit to Egypt.

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