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Lavrov: Some states want to change Syrian regime even at the cost of humanitarian disaster

January 26, 2016, 18:29 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The humanitarian aspect should become the central issue for discussion during inter-Syrian negotiations, the Russian Foreign Minister believes

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MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. There should be no preconditions for the beginning of the inter-Syrian negotiations and the humanitarian aspect should become the central issue for discussion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said an annual news conference on Tuesday.

"We always proceed on the basis that there should be no preconditions for the beginning of the negotiations, and humanitarian aspects must be among the central issues discussed at the negotiations between the government and the opposition," he said. "We will encourage in every way the so-called local pacification until a complete ceasefire is announced."

"We are in favour of the ceasefire, the same as the United States," the minister said. "But some countries of the [Persian] Gulf say: "We will be ready to give a command to cease fire to those led by us only if we feel that the political process has started and the prospect of Bashar Assad’s resignation exists." So, you can make your own conclusion on who is really concerned about the suffering of civilians, and who wants to change the regime in Syria at all costs, even at the cost of the humanitarian disaster aggravation."

On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in a telephone conversation for involvement in the Syrian political process of the International Syria Support Group, Russia, the US and UN. The telephone conversation was initiated by the US side, the ministry said.

"The foreign policy chiefs continued discussing the Syrian topic and confirmed support for the efforts of the UN secretary general’s envoy for the Syrian crisis Staffan de Mistura to organize next week in Geneva the talks featuring representatives of the Syrian government and of the opposition with the purpose to achieve political settlement in that country," the ministry said. "They paid special attention to the need to form a truly representational delegation of the opposition and to have the agenda comply with requirements of the UN Security Council’s resolution 2254, including fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, as well as respect for the right of Syrians to determine themselves the future of their country."

"They have expressed common view that in the interests of effective outer supervision of the inter-Syrian political process it would be reasonable to continue using the format of the International Syria Support Group led by Russia, the United States and United Nations," the ministry said.

Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 passed on December 18, a transitional government should be formed in Syria and work on the new constitution should begin within six months after the beginning of the talks. The new constitution should be followed by free and fair elections no later than within 18 months. The document also envisages that the ceasefire should come into effect immediately after the Syrian government and opposition begin the implementation of the process of political reforms.

Previously, Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told reporters that the negotiations involving the parties to the Syrian conflict were planned for January 25. He said the international community had done serious work to launch these talks. "They are due to be held, after all the work we have done," the diplomat said on January 18, heading for a closed-door Un Security Council meeting.

During the meeting, Staffan de Mistura briefed the Security Council members on preparations for launching the new round of the inter-Syrian dialogue.

Ahead of the meeting, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN Peter Wilson pointed to the need to step up confidence-building measures and those aimed at maintaining positive attitude of the parties to the conflict. He noted that this would be difficult, adding that Staffan de Mistura was facing a difficult task.

The meeting is expected to discuss preparation of lists of the delegations of the opposition and terrorist groups that are to be compiled by Saudi Arabia and Jordan respectively. Besides, the participants may discuss the humanitarian situation in the besieged cities of Syria, which has commanded public attention recently. Several opposition groups earlier said that they would boycott the talks in Geneva if the situation did not improve. The attitude of the UN Security Council member countries towards these demands varies. While the western countries consider them to be justified, others, including Russia and China, say that the negotiations should begin without preconditions.

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