BEIRUT: Future Movement MP Fouad Siniora said in remarks Tuesday that in his recent meetings with officials in Russia, he sought to devise solutions to end the violence in Syria and forestall repercussions of the 16-month-old crisis.
In an interview with Al-Joumhouria, Siniora said that given the Syrian regime’s use of force in its attempts to quell the uprising and “due to the big role Russia plays ... we saw the need to discuss with Russia exits and ideas to stop the violence in Syria.”
The discussions, he added, also focused on ways to combat opportunities for “extremists” to dominate the uprising.
Siniora, the head of the Future Movement Parliamentary bloc, was accompanied by a delegation from the Council of Arab and International Relations on his visit to Moscow last week. He and the delegation met with foreign Affairs Minister Serge Lavrov as well as Russia’s Foreign Affairs Council, which includes Russian academics and former officials.
The Moscow visit came days after head of the Future Movement and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to discuss the crisis, which has left more than 27,000 dead, according to activists.
The Future Movement has voiced its opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and repeatedly condemned violence used against the uprising. Hariri has urged Assad to step down and asked the Arab and international community to put a stop to the conflict.
Despite its refusal to back calls for Assad's departure, Russia has said that it is not "clinging" to any leader in Syria. In recent days, Russia has said it will ask the Security Council to endorse a plan aimed at ending the crisis in Syria.
In his comments to the local daily, Siniora said that Russia recognized the presence of a major problem and saw the need to find solutions not only for the crisis in Syria but also for the primary issue in the region: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Our meetings were critical to discussing dangers, opportunities, and the need for everyone to participate [in ending the Syria conflict],” Siniora said.
As for Lebanon, Siniora said: “We don’t want to be dragged into conflicts that threaten our stability,” voicing opposition to arms smuggling between Syria and Lebanon.