The European Union will seek more engagement from Russia in resolving the crisis in Syria during a two-day bilateral summit in St. Petersburg, an EU official said.
The situation in Syria, where the worst atrocity in the 15- month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad left more than 100 people dead last week, will be the main topic during foreign-policy discussions at the June 3-4 summit, said the official, who declined to be named, citing policy.
The United Nations is deadlocked on how to stem the violence, with Russia continuing to block attempts to impose more economic pressure on a country slipping into civil war. The way out of the current situation is to include Russia, the EU official said.
The massacre in Syria’s Houla region, where children under age 10 accounted for 49 of the 108 deaths, has sparked responses such as the ejection of top Syrian diplomats from Western capitals. The UN has 291 unarmed military observers and 89 civilian monitors to oversee a peace plan crafted by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan.
While the EU strongly supports the Annan program, the bloc needs to make sure Russia is using its leverage fully in convincing the Assad regime to implement the peace plan, according to the EU official.
The issue of Syria may be raised when Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet with EU President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at a dinner on June 3 to mark the start of the summit.
The foreign-policy agenda of the two-day meeting also includes developments in Iran before the next round of talks between world powers and the Persian Gulf nation on its nuclear program scheduled to take place on June 18-19 in Moscow.
The EU and Russia also are set to discuss issues including the economic situation, visas and mobility, aviation, financial cooperation and energy, where the sticking point is the European energy market liberalization package, criticized by Russia.
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