US President Obama to visit Russia
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he returns to the White House in Washington on May 19, 2013 from Atlanta. Barack Obama will visit Russia ahead of a G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg in early September with the Syrian crisis expected to top the agenda. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMMU.S. President Barack Obama will visit Russia ahead of a G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg in early September with the Syrian crisis expected to top the agenda.
“The Russian and U.S. presidents will meet on the sidelines of the G-8 summit. Barack Obama will visit Russia ahead of the G-20 meeting,” the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted top diplomat Sergei Lavrov as saying on its Twitter account. G-8 leaders will gather in Northern Ireland in July 17-18, when the two-year-old Syrian crisis is expected to be discussed at length. The G-20 meeting will be held Sept. 5-6.
The announcement came as the United States and Russia are trying to convene a peace conference in Geneva that would bring together members of the Syrian government and the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Though the exact date is not clear for the conference, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said it should be held “as soon as possible.”
“There are high expectations and the meeting should be held as soon as possible,” Ban told reporters alongside Lavrov last week. The conference is not expected until the first half of June because the actual makeup of the Syrian delegations has not yet been set.
Lavrov also said all Syrian opposition groups should be present at the conference.
“We need the consent of the main parties concerned so as to organize an international conference on Syria. All of the Syrian opposition groups should be present at the international conference on Syria. The list of participants in the international conference, apart from the Syrian parties, should be decided on in advance,” Lavrov was quoted by the ministry. “All parties must be represented at the conference, or its success will be jeopardized by individual ambitions and grudges.”
Moscow has called for the inclusion of Iran, another staunch ally of the Syrian government, and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia as a counterweight.
The Geneva talks were agreed during a May 7 visit to Moscow by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.