Brussels, 1 Jumadil Awwal 1434/ 12 March 2013 (MINA) – The European Union (EU) reaffirmed on Monday that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is a political one, while Russia also voiced its hope for a political settlement despite obstacles.

        In Brussels, the EU’s foreign ministers discussed the situation in Syria with Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League special representative for Syria, according to Xinhua report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

        Following the discussion, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the 27-member bloc would continue to support Brahimi’s efforts to create space for a political dialogue between the Syrian opposition and representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

        The only solution to this crisis is a political one, and the EU is ready to assist in “any way possible,” Ashton said.

        She added that at the same time, the EU is determined to increase assistance to the Syrian population and support to the opposition.

        The EU is the largest humanitarian donor during the the Syrian human right crisis, with more than 400 million euros (about 520 million U.S. dollars).

        “We are looking at ways we can work with the opposition to help restore basic services, such as medical supplies, water purification and power generation, and even some administrative services,” Ashton said following the council meeting.

        “Meanwhile, we continue to work with our international partners to further narrow down differences,” she added.

         In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country is ready to assist in finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict, despite obstacles created by some “sponsors” of the Syrian opposition.

        “There are lots of those who attempt to prevent (the conclusion of violence), including the outside sponsors of the so-called hard-line opposition,” Lavrov told reporters before meeting Haytham Manna, coordinator of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) of Syria.

        “We are convinced that the efforts to unite patriotic opposition on the platform of readiness for a dialogue … contribute a lot to the process we want to conceive,” he was quoted as saying in a report posted on the foreign ministry’s website.

         The Russian diplomat said the Syrian government has also offered its proposals for a possible dialogue. “Russia would like to facilitate the unification of these two processes,” he said, stressing that Syria’s political problems must be settled by Syrians.

         Lavrov called the NCC “an influential force of the Syrian opposition” and supported its intentions for a political solution to the conflict, according to the report.

         Meanwhile, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the main Syrian opposition group, has postponed again a meeting on the formation of an interim government.

        The meeting was initially scheduled for last month in Istanbul, Turkey, to elect a “provisional prime minister,” but was postponed until Tuesday this week.

        At least five candidates are vying for the post of the authority that Syria’s opposition plans to form to run the “rebel-held territory,” according to an SNC member.

        As the international community kept on mediation efforts in a bid to end violence and bloodshed in Syria, explosions and attacks continued to rock the country.

        On Monday, multiple mortar shells slammed a time-honored area and a stadium in Syria’s capital of Damascus, leaving a number of injuries among people and athletes alike, local media reported.

        The first two mortars landed at the Bab Sharqi area in the old quarter of Damascus, local media said, adding that many people were injured and material losses were caused.

        Another mortar landed at the Tihsreen Stadium at the Bramkeh district in central Damascus, injuring two referees, a reporter and a civilian employee.

        The same stadium was hit last month by a mortar shell that killed a 19-year-old football player.

        Mortar attacks have become a daily routine as a result of the military showdown in the suburbs of Damascus between rebels and government troops. (T/P011/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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