Times of Oman
Price in RO
24ct / gm
22ct / gm
Forex Rates vs R01
Back to Homepage
Syria offers to swap prisoners with rebels
January 17, 2014 , 4 : 38 pm GST
SAVE THIS ARTICLE
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) greets Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Moscow. Photo - AFP
Syria said on Friday it was ready to swap prisoners with the rebels and would take swift steps that could lead to the first such mass exchange in nearly three years of fighting.
The announcement by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Moscow could mark another diplomatic success for Russia after the Kremlin managed to convince its ally Damascus to renounce its chemical weapons in order to avert imminent US air strikes.
It also came just as the war-torn country's divided opposition prepared to hold decisive talks in Istanbul on whether to join a peace conference that is due to begin on Wednesday in Switzerland.
Muallem failed to specify how many prisoners such a swap would involve or when it might begin. But it would represent a concession to one of the opposition's key demands before it agreed to peace talks.
"I informed (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov of our principled position in favour of an agreement to exchange those held in Syrian prisons for those taken by the other side," Muallem said following talks with his Russian counterpart in a government mansion in the heart of Moscow.
"We are ready to exchange lists and develop the necessary mechanism for accomplishing these goals," Muallem said in remarks translated from Arabic into Russian.
Muallem also confirmed his government's plans to send a senior delegation to the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux where the long-delayed peace conference — the first since June 2012 — is due to begin.
Syria "will take part in Geneva II and make every effort to ensure this event is a success and meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and the direct orders of President Bashar Al Assad," said Muallem.
He added that Assad will send his representatives to Switzerland "irrespective of the situation around the participation or the non-participation of the National Coalition at this conference."
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday also called the umbrella rebel group not to boycott the talks because they represented "the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution."
Plans for the peace conference were first announced in May by Kerry and Lavrov in Moscow amid indications that the war that has now claimed 130,000 lives had reached a stalemate.
But more recent government advances have put the rebels at a disadvantage at any negotiations.
Russia meanwhile has been on the diplomatic ascendent ever since managing to avert seemingly inevitable US strikes against Assad's forces in September by forcing the regime to renounce its chemical arms.
Lavrov and Kerry this week also issued a joint call for Syria's regime and the rebels to agree to ceasefires in parts of their battle-scarred country that could begin in the devastated northern city of Aleppo.
Muallem did not address the ceasefire call directly but said he had handed Lavrov "a plan concerning measures for ensuring security in Aleppo."
Lavrov said Muallem had informed him of Assad's readiness "to take a series of humanitarian steps" that would lead to the speedy delivery of assistance to those suffering from the 34-month civil war.
"This concerns specific proposals that are already being implemented concerning the delivery of humanitarian supplies to settlements in the Eastern Ghuta region and other areas, including the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo," Lavrov said.
Rate this Article
Rates : 0, Average : 0
Post a Comment
Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name :
Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:
No Comments Posted
Latest in this section
Radical leftists set for a comfortable victory as Greeks vote
Indonesia fails to retrieve jet fuselage
Khaleda charged with instigating bus arson attack
30 killed in Philippines as police, rebels clash
IS seeks freedom for female bomber
TOP RATED ARTICLES
Series of earthquakes reported 133km north of Oman
Football: OFA to hold emergency meeting with unhappy clubs
FAHAD AL MUKRASHI
Cruise ship passenger airlifted to hospital in Oman
Sunday Beat: Oman needs better flood management strategy to tackle rain damage
SALEH AL SHAIBANY
1,547 women screened for cancer by mobile mammography unit of Oman Cancer Association
More in News
Momos on Wheel: A saga of grit and determination
The rain in an unaccustomed land
Whale sharks set for tagging to save species
Lewis Smith/The Independent
Sri Lanka restores blood-soaked railway to Tamil heartland
Bucharest 'khans' reborn after decades of neglect
More in Features
Law-breakers at the helm as lawmakers
State of global poverty indeed desperate now
Why aren’t we talking about massacre by Boko Haram?
It is an act of outrageous cruelty
A new Cold War now knocking at our doors
More in Columns
Muscat Media Group.
Times of Oman is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
For reprint rights contact:
TOO Online Editorial