Senior officials from the United States and Russia, during their talks with Lakhdar Brahimi — the United nations and Arab League envoy on Syria — have endorsed the six-month old Geneva Communiqué as the touchstone for the resolution of the Syrian conflict.
Meeting in Geneva on Friday, the trio, which apart from Mr. Brahimi, included Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s West Asia envoy; and William Burns, the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, agreed that there was no military solution to the Syrian situation.
“In our view, there is no military solution for this conflict,” said Mr. Brahimi during a media conference. The Geneva plan calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria, in which members of Syrian government and the opposition are represented. Significantly, the plan does not call for the exit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The endorsement of the Geneva communiqué marks a major diplomatic victory for Russia and China — two countries, who have maintained relentless focus on this plan, defying exhortations calling for President Assad to step down from the U.S. and its allies.
Unsurprisingly, the Russians pulled all stops to convey their support for the Geneva plan, even before the talks on Friday began.
The Geneva communiqué was issued after a meeting of the ‘action group’ for Syria, which comprised the Secretaries-General of the U.N. and the Arab League; the Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, the foreign policy chief of the European Union and top diplomats from Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.
Despite the agreement on common principles, contradictory signals were emerging from the U.S., which, contrary to the spirit of the Geneva Communiqué, expressed its discomfort with the possibility of Mr. Assad continuing in office during the transitional phase.