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Kurds to participate in next round of inter-Syrian talks — Russian diplomat

February 05, 2:24 UTC+3 GENEVA
Russian ambassador to the U.N. Office described as absurd an assertion that the Syrian Kurds could not be regarded as part of opposition because they were not fighting against al-Assad’s government
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GENEVA, February 4 /TASS/. Syrian Kurds should take part in the next round of the inter-Syrian talks, Alexey Borodavkin, Russian ambassador to the U.N. Office in Geneva, said on Thursday.

"The refusal to include Syrian Kurds in the opposition delegations is a separate issue. They should participate in the process at the next round of talks," Borodavkin said.

"First of all, Syrian Kurds are the citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic who have the right to determine their country’s future; second, it is impossible to resolve any questions on the talks’ agenda without the Kurds: be it anti-terror efforts or a ceasefire; humanitarian issues or political transition," the diplomat went on to say.

He described as absurd an assertion that the Syrian Kurds could not be regarded as part of opposition on grounds that they were not fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government.

"Syrian Kurds are effectively fighting against DAESH (an Arabic name for the Islamic State terrorist group, which is banned in Russia) to save their country," Borodavkin said.

"Besides, the political opposition, whose ranks also comprise Syrian Kurds, is a legitimate participant in the talks. The more so that they [Syrian Kurds] took part in the Moscow and Cairo conferences. From this point of view, they also have every right to participate in the negotiations," Borodavkin said.

The diplomat blamed the Riyadh group of Syrian opposition for the suspension of the inter-Syrian negotiations in Geneva on February 3.

"The talks were suspended after part of the [Syrian] opposition, elected at the Riyadh conference of opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had left Geneva," Borodavkin said.

"The other parts of the [Syrian] opposition, formed in Moscow and Cairo, as well as the internal opposition which had arrived from Damascus were ready to continue the talks. The government delegation also had no plans to leave," the ambassador said.

Borodavkin criticized the Riyadh group’s representatives who tried to justify their stance. "This group said that it was leaving Geneva because the government delegation had failed to meet their demands on humanitarian issues and because the government troops, with Russian air support, had launched an offensive on Aleppo," he said.

"They and their patrons are pretending that they do not know that U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254 prescribed to start the inter-Syrian talks without any preconditions. The [Syrian] government delegation and the [Syrian] opposition delegation formed in Moscow and Cairo did exactly what they were supposed to do - they demonstrated a constructive approach," the diplomat explained.

Borodavkin gave some other examples to prove that Damascus representatives and the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who approached each other at consultations in Moscow and Cairo, had arrived in Geneva with an intention to reach an agreement.

"First, the government delegation agreed to consider a list of persons to be released which had been handed over by the Riyadh group; second, the government opened a relief corridor to Madaya. The opposition did not answer with reciprocity and is refusing to provide access for relief convoys to Fua and Kafraya blocked by Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. Third, Damascus had no objections to the inclusion of the leaders of Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham terrorist groups, which both we and the Syrian government consider to be terrorist, in the opposition delegation," Borodavkin concluded.

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