"It is a common opinion that those who were in Geneva last year should attend a new conference as well, and it is our understanding that some important players, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, should be added to these participants, and we will work on this," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Sweden.
"I believe contacts between the permanent UN Security Council members will be useful on any issue. As concerns a conference on Syria that Russia and the U.S. have proposed, the five permanent members could be useful as an advisory format, but it is still necessary to gather in a much broader format. We would like all of Syria's neighbors to be involved in this process," Lavrov said in commenting on reports suggesting that the five permanent UN Security Council members could meet in the run-up to a new Geneva conference on Syria.
What matters most is not determining the foreign participants but making sure that "both the [Syrian] government and the opposition declare their willingness to support this initiative," he said. "The government has already made its statement, but the opposition is not speaking in a single voice so far. John Kerry and I have discussed ways for our American counterparts to use all of their resources to make the [Syrian] opposition as representative as possible and prompt it to appoint its delegation," he said.