Russia calls for 'political transition process' in Syria

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia has called for the launch of a political transition process in Syria, a day after peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with diplomats from Moscow and Washington in a bid to resolve the nearly two-year-old conflict.

But Moscow also reiterated its long-held position that only Syrians themselves could decide their fate without outside interference.

"In our opinion, the priority task is to immediately stop any violence and bloodshed as well as provide Syrians including internally displaced persons and refugees with humanitarian aid," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"At the same time, it is necessary to secure the launch of a political transition process in Syria aimed at enshrining in law guaranteed and equal rights of all ethnic-confessional groups of this country."

"As in the past, we firmly support a premise that issues of Syria's future should be solved by Syrians themselves, without outside interference and the imposition of ready-made recipes."

UN-Arab League special envoy Brahimi on Friday met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Geneva.

The discussions took place a day after Syria accused Mr Brahimi of "flagrant bias", casting doubt on whether he could stay on as international mediator.

In the statement, Moscow stressed its "unchanged" support for Mr Brahimi's peace mission, adding that it would support further trilateral talks.

Russia also reiterated its support for a transition plan that was agreed in Geneva on June 30, 2012, but has since split world powers.

"We proceed from the fact that this consensus-based document remains fully relevant as the only platform to overcome the protracted crisis in Syria," the foreign ministry said.

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