BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister headed to Russia Tuesday to take part in the first round of the Arab-Russia Forum and said he would discuss the Syria crisis with Russian officials on the sidelines of the event, the National News Agency reported.
Mansour, speaking before his departure from Rafik Hariri International Airport, said the Arab-Russia Forum, to include foreign ministers from the region, would lay the groundwork for ties in the next couple of years between Moscow and the Arab world.
“This forum will establish future relations between 2013 and 2015 and will look into economic, political, cultural, scientific and business issues in order to boost ties between Russia and the Arab world,” he said at the Beirut port.
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq and the head of the Arab League chief, Nabil al-Arabi, will take part in the forum, the minister said.
Asked whether he would hold talks with Russian officials sidelines of the gathering on regional developments, Mansour said: “Of course, I have a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and of course there will be many items of discussion on the schedule that we will look into with the Russian side.”
“These [discussions] will be political and include the current situation in the Middle East and the Arab world and particularly Syria with the aim of seeking ways to resolve the current problem.”
Earlier this month Russia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said that talks at the first round of the Arab-Russia Forum, which will be held in Moscow, was expected to “include regional developments as well as raising the level of relations between Russia and the Arab world at all levels.”
Mansour said that all countries should contribute toward promoting a political solution for Syria,
“Everyone should contribute toward a political solution in Syria to help it come out of its crisis,” he said, when asked whether he was optimistic about an expected U.S.-Russian summit in the coming weeks.
According to the United Nations figures, about 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict even since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a crackdown on protests that broke out in March 2011, transforming gradually to armed battles between the rebels and the regime forces.