MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Moscow favors a thorough and impartial investigation of all reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
"Considering the use of chemical weapons, a special mechanism has been set up with the participation of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], which investigates all information on all incidents, including multiple reports saying that radicals gained access to chemical weapons during this conflict," he said.
"This occurred after Islamic State fighters seized the relevant facilities in Iraq and Libya. We would like these incidents to be investigated thoroughly and impartially. It is dangerous when chemical weapons end up in the wrong hands — in any hands, because chemical weapons are prohibited," the Russian minister told his Qatari counterpart who said that Doha considered the regime of Bashar al-Assad illegitimate, as Syria allegedly used chemical weapons.
The Syrian authorities have repeatedly told the OPCW that the government forces had never used chemical weapons during the internal armed conflict in the country.
Russia and Qatar can contribute to making the process of forming the delegation of the Syrian opposition at the talks with the government constructive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday following talks with Qatar's top diplomat Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah.
"Just like Qatar, we would like Syria to become a peaceful, independent and sovereign country where territorial integrity and the rights of all ethno-sectarian and other groups would be respected," the minister said. "By the way, these are the principles, which we share not only with regard to Syria, but also in regard to Iraq and Yemen. And we will probably have to admit that one of the most thorny issues in the efforts on the Syrian settlement is disagreements between Russia and Qatar and other countries regarding the legitimacy of the current Syrian leadership."
"The main thing is that over two past months in Vienna and also in New York, at a meeting of the International Syria Support Group, which includes the whole range of outside players, the steps and stages to implement the Geneva Communique were agreed," Lavrov said. "We note a very positive evolution in the stance of many our partners who continue to insist that Assad’s regime is illegitimate and, at the same time, speak out in favor of negotiations between the government and a wide array of the Syrian opposition. We support this approach."
"Indeed, we have not yet managed to clarify a question of who will represent the opposition at these talks and who will be seen as unacceptable partners, as terrorist extremist groups," Lavrov said. "The most important thing is that UN Secretary-General’s Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has been instructed to complete efforts to form the opposition delegation. The UN Security Council resolution says that he should rely on the decisions of the opposition meetings held recently in Moscow, Cairo, Riyadh and other places."
"There are certain criteria, namely, the need to bring the widest possible range of oppositionists to the negotiating table," Lavrov said. "After today’s talks we have a understanding with Qatari counterparts that we can contribute to making the process of forming such delegation and beginning the inter-Syrian talks constructive," the minister said. "Such an understanding has been reached today on how we can contribute to this."
The UN Security Council Resolution 2254 clearly states that Syrians themselves should decide their future, and the United States has nothing to do with this, Sergey Lavrov went on to say.
Answering a question on whether Syrian President Bashar Assad will be able to take part in the presidential election after the 18-month transition period, Lavrov said: "Americans have nothing to do with this, and we have nothing to do with this as well. This should be decided by the Syrian people." "The resolution clearly states that the future of the country will be decided by its people. What do Americans have to do with this?" the foreign minister said.
The UN Security Council Resolution 2254 adopted on December 18 in support of the Vienna agreements on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Syria envisages participation of the Syrian opposition and representatives of government in the talks that are due to start in January 2016. The final goals of negotiations are defined as establishing the transitional government, adopting a constitution and holding election in the next 18 months.
The document does not mention Syrian President Bashar Assad whose future remains the main stumbling block. The resolution states that the Syrian people should decide the future of the country.
In Syria there are militants from all parts of the world, including from Russia, Russia's Foreign Minister went on to say.
"Like Qatar, we are interested Syria becomes a peaceful, independent, sovereign country, where territory integrity is observes, where rights of all ethnic, confessional and other groups are respected," the minister said. "Those are, by the way, the approaches we share not only regarding Syria, but also regarding Iraq and Yemen."
"We have discussed among others the situation, which has established between Iraq and Turkey due to the uninvited deployment of the Turkish military in the territory of Iraq," Lavrov said. "Yesterday, the Arab League initiated the demand Turkey stopped those actions."
"The Syrian sovereignty is being violated too, as along with the civil war between the government and the opposition in the territory of Syria there are uninvited militants from all over the world, including from Russia."