Russia said the Syrian Government has agreed “in principle” to attend an international peace conference proposed jointly by Moscow and Washington and criticised efforts to undermine peace efforts.

“We note with satisfaction that Damascus has confirmed to us its readiness in principle to participate in the international conference, in the interest of Syrians themselves finding a political path to resolve the conflict, which has been devastating for the nation and the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Friday.

The statement came a day after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad held “detailed discussions” on preparations for the peace conference in the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Moscow made it clear that it has covered its part of the road by persuading the Syrian Government to attend the proposed conference and the ball was now in the U.S. court.

“Forming the negotiating teams of the opposition for participation in the forum without preconditions remains the most pressing task for all those who are genuinely interested in an early political settlement,” Mr. Lukashevich said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticised attempts to fast-track the conference.

“Demands to immediately name a specific date for the conference without having clarity about who, and with what authority, will speak in the name of the Opposition, cannot be taken seriously,” Mr. Lukashevich said.

The spokesman denounced as “counter-productive” and “one-sided” the May 15 U.N. General Assembly resolution praising the Opposition and condemning President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and a similar motion moved at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“These steps are sending a bad signal to the opposition groups, essentially pushing them to reject negotiations,” the Russian statement said.

More In: World | International | News