A shift on Syria

Both the US and Russia seem less eager now to defend their previous positions

Written by The Indian Express | Published: May 10, 2013 12:40:27 am

Both the US and Russia seem less eager now to defend their previous positions

There is a virtue in modest expectations. When the new US Secretary of State,John Kerry,met the veteran Russian Foreign Minister,Sergei Lavrov,in Moscow this week,few expected… any progress on the most intractable issue currently separating the two countries — the civil war in Syria. In the event,however,there was a measure of agreement,which should find its expression in a peace conference to be held as soon as the end of this month. There is room for caution… A conference in Geneva last June produced an accord on the creation of a transitional government in Syria. But it was never implemented,because of disagreement about the role,if any,of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia wanted him included; the US insisted he be left out. Increased violence in recent months,disputed evidence that one or both sides may have deployed nerve gas,last weekend’s Israeli air strikes… have all combined to fuel fears that the conflict could spread beyond Syria’s borders. Such fears may have concentrated minds,bringing concessions from both Washington and Moscow. After their Moscow meeting,both Kerry and Lavrov seemed less concerned to defend their previous positions and in agreement that any decision on transitional arrangements had to rest with the Syrians.

From a leader in ‘The Independent’,London

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