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Russian official calls talks of plan B for Syria "dangerous trend"

February 25, 2016, 13:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Washington earlier announced it was preparing "plan B" in case a planned ceasefire in Syria would not materialize

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MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. Reports of "plan B" for Syria is a very dangerous trend which is similar to the situation with Minsk-2 agreements on Ukrainian settlement, Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told a conference of the Valdai discussion club titled "Middle East: From Violence to Safety."

"The fact that some talk about ‘plan B’ appeared now seems a very dangerous trend to me," he said. "This is somewhat reminiscent of the situation with the Minsk agreements when the responsibility for their implementation is placed entirely on Russia, even though Ukraine does not comply with them."

Washington earlier announced it was preparing "plan B" in case a planned ceasefire would not materialize. Washington does not officially disclose the contents of its alternative plan. However, US media report that the US leadership is ready to place all responsibility on Russia for disruption of "plan A". Moscow says there is no need to be distracted by alternative plans and takes practical steps to implement the joint agreements.

On the whole, Kosachev spoke highly of the Russian-US agreements on Syrian settlement. "The current Russian-American initiative is a very important psychological moment. This is the third manifestation of the fact that together Russia and the United States can achieve more than when they stand in each other’s way [after Syria’s chemical disarmament and the Iran nuclear deal]," he said.

External assistance in Syrian settlement should not turn into dictate

The lawmaker stressed facilitating settlement in Syria from the outside should not turn into dictate.

"The Middle East needs external assistance and mediation like air to overcome disagreements. This mediation, however, should not slide into the regime of imposition or dictate," Kosachev noted.

"Unlike other players, Russia is the only country that is not fulfilling its own interests from the point of view of who will rule Syria or what political system will be there. Our only interest is to prevent the terrorist threat. This makes us an honest broker. Our top national interest is the stable situation in the world as a whole and, of course, in the Middle East," the lawmaker noted.

On Monday night Russia and the United States released a joint statement saying that the ceasefire will take effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27.

"The United States of America and the Russian Federation, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and seeking to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis with full respect for the fundamental role of the United Nations, are fully determined to provide their strongest support to end the Syrian conflict and establish conditions for a successful Syrian-led political transition process, facilitated by the UN," the joint statement of the United States and Russia said.

The statement points out that the cessation of hostilities is to be applied to all parties to the Syrian conflict but for Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State) and Jebhat an-Nusra (both are banned in Russia) "or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council."

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