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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

International Conference on Syria Opens in Geneva

RIA Novosti

14:39 30/06/2012

GENEVA, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - An international conference on Syria intended to discuss all viable mechanisms of ensuring a ceasefire in the Middle Eastern country started its work in Geneva on Saturday.

The ministerial conference with the participation of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, U.S., Great Britain, China and France), and also Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, is expected to discuss a peace plan by UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan to end the bloodshed in the war-torn country.

Annan proposed on Wednesday creation of an interim Syrian government that would include both opposition figures and those loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Annan’s initiative comes almost three months after the implementation of the six-point peace plan, which was followed by a deadly massacre in the village of Houla, as well as numerous attacks in Damascus and other Syrian regions.

On Russia’s behalf, the conference is being attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov has said the Syrian government is ready to withdraw its armed forces from the country's cities in parallel with the forces of the Syrian opposition.

Lavrov also noted that he felt a change in the United States' position after speaking with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about Syria on Friday.

"We have a very good chance tomorrow in Geneva to find a common denominator and find a path forward in order to stimulate the implementation of Annan's Plan from both sides of the Syrian [conflict]," Lavrov said.

According to UN estimates, some 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization with a network of activists in Syria, has put the death toll at 12,000.

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