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Russian diplomat slams Syria’s Riyadh-backed opposition attempts to frustrate peace talks

February 04, 8:23 UTC+3
Russia stand for maximum broad representation of Syria’s opposition, including the Kurds, in a new round of intra-Syrian talks planned for February 25
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov

© EPA/VALENTIN FLAURAUD / POOL

GENEVA, February 4. /TASS/. Attempts by the Syrian opposition delegation that was formed in Riyadh to frustrate settlement talks are absolutely unacceptable and its excuses are groundless, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Thursday.

"Naturally, we express regret that United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura had to take a decision to suspend the talks due to the position taken by the Riyadh delegation at today’s meeting," he said. "Their attempts to frustrate the negotiating process under an excuse that Russia continues its military operation in Syria are absolutely unacceptable as the case in hand is the fight against the terrorism threat in that country. Their another excuse for not taking part in the talks - the deteriorated humanitarian situation in Syria - is also absolutely untenable."

Gatilov stressed that United Nations Security Council resolution 2254 establishes no links between the solution to humanitarian problems and the launch of the negotiating process.

"So, what the Riyadh opposition is saying is absolutely groundless. And we cannot consider it as anything else but an attempt to freeze, and actually, to frustrate the negotiating process," the Russian diplomat said.

Russia stands for broad representation of Syrian opposition in peace talks

Gatilov said Russia stand for maximum broad representation of Syria’s opposition, including the Kurds, in a new round of intra-Syrian talks planned for February 25.

"The Kurds, who represent a real force having political and military influence and controlling a considerable part of the Syrian territory, have a full right to and must take part in the negotiating process and in decision-making linked with Syria’s future development," he stressed.

"Moreover, there another part of the opposition, the so-called Syria’s internal opposition whose representatives are also in Geneva. They also have the right to take part in the negotiating process," Gatilov said.

He noted that all documents on the Syrian settlement, including the Vienna agreements, the Geneva communique and United Nations Security Council resolution 2254, say that the opposition delegation should have a broad representation. "And it means that all segments of the Syrian opposition should take part in this process and that their interests should be represented in the negotiating process," the Russian diplomat said.

Russia-US contacts over adjournment of intra-Syrian talks not yet discussed

According to the Russian diplomat, the issue of additional contacts between Russia and the United States over the suspension of the Geneva intra-Syrian talks ahead of the Munich meeting on February 11 has not yet been discussed.

"As of yet, this issue has not been discussed since we have just seen a new development of the situation," he said.

"We have been maintaining regular contacts with the Americans. We discuss all issues, and [Russia Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov has contacts with US Secretary of State [John] Kerry," Gatilov said. "So, the Syrian topic will obviously stay in focus."

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