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Russia satisfied with cooperation with US on Syria — Bogdanov

March 07, 19:47 UTC+3
"On the whole, we are satisfied with our cooperation. Naturally, its channels are being improved," the deputy foreign minister said
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© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

TEHRAN, March 7 /TASS/. Moscow is generally satisfied with its cooperation with the United States on Syria. Russian and U.S. military regularly exchange information, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, told TASS on Monday.

"On the whole, we are satisfied with our cooperation. Naturally, its channels are being improved. It is a new thing for us. We offered that long ago, but our American partners used to have their doubts. Information exchange centers are currently operating in Geneva and in some other countries of the region," Bogdanov said. "Our military are actively communicating, exchanging information and working with maps. There are certain technical means of tracking breaches and the situation in separate Syria regions, including drones, space means as well as airborne track and surveillance means," the deputy foreign minister said.

All accusations that Russia is violating the Syrian ceasefire are unfounded and provocative, Bogdanov said.

"An information war is under way, and certain forces are not interested in reaching a political settlement in Syria. They want a war and they will continue spreading various information speculations and launch unfounded accusations. They will also use these speculations as a pre-condition for participation in the political process," the deputy foreign minister said.

The International Syria Support Group

The International Syria Support Group will continue talks at the ministerial level, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who is the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, told TASS on Monday.

"The assistance group will apparently hold a new meeting at some stage. For the moment, two target groups are meeting in Geneva regularly and actively: for humanitarian problems and ceasefire. Work is under way with full awareness that we will continue our joint and uncompromising struggle against terrorists in Syria and elsewhere [in the world]," the deputy foreign minister said.

Bogdanov said that the Saudi-backed Riyadh group should not be the only one to represent Syrian opposition at the inter-Syrian talks in Geneva. The participants of the consultations in Moscow, Cairo, Astana and Damascus should also go to Geneva to ensure the maximum broad representation of the Syrian opposition.

"The opposition should have the maximum broad representation, which should not be confined to the Riyadh group. The opposition Syrian leaders who participated in the consultations in Moscow, Cairo, Astana and Damascus should also be present [at the Geneva talks]," Bogdanov said.

Russia will intensify a political dialogue with Iran

Russia and Iran have agreed to intensify a political dialogue, Bogdanov said.

"We have had good and meaningful consultations," Bogdanov, who is the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, said after meeting Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

"We agreed to support and maintain active political dialogue. We will have a number of important meetings with the Iranian leadership," Bogdanov stressed.

Iran is committed to the international agreements on Syria, Bogdanov said.

"We have a relatively high degree of understanding with Iranian partners. They have also assured us that they will remain committed to the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the Vienna agreements," Bogdanov said.

Bogdanov added that development of Iran’s relations with Turkey is unlikely to affect the volumes of Tehran’s cooperation with Russia.

"Iran is a sovereign country, whose leaders make independent decisions proceeding from the national interests. They are free to develop relations with any country," Bogdanov told TASS commenting the recent visit of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the Iranian capital where he announced Turkish intention to build up economic interaction with Iran.

According to the diplomat, Russia is among Iran’s major partners.

"We have a very good tradition of interaction. We helped the Iranians not only in a period of sanctions lifting but also in times of trouble. We cooperated in branches, which are extremely important for Iran’s economy, including nuclear power industry," the deputy foreign minister said.

Сlosure of the Syrian-Turkish border

Russia demands the world community’s reaction to the shelling of Kurds by Turkey, Mikhail Bogdanov said.

"We are constantly raising these issues. They are being discussed in Geneva and within the framework of separate formats of interaction under the U.N. auspices," Bogdanov said.

According to the deputy foreign minister, the United Nations and the ceasefire group have been discussing these topics.

Bogdanov added that Russia has called for closing the Syrian-Turkish border.

"This topic is being discussed by the International Syria Support Group and a ceasefire group. The most important thing is to deprive terrorists of a possibility to receive reinforcement with fighters and weapons and be engaged in illegal oil trade, artefacts sale, hostage taking and ransom receipts. It is their material feeding and a means to expand terrorism. Border control is extremely important. It is not just the border with Turkey but the entire border perimeter of any state. In this case, it is Syria," Bogdanov, who is the Russian president’s envoy for the Middle East and Africa, said.

According to Bogdanov, the Iraqis say that there is no common border between Syria and Iraq because the so-called Islamic State (a terrorist group, which is banned in Russia) is lying in the middle. "It is very sad, of course," the Russian diplomat said.

"It is necessary to settle things relying predominantly on the Iraqi and Syrian armed forces. They will be ready to achieve that goal with support from moderate patriotic opposition, including its armed units; Kurdish self-defense detachments and naturally with the world community’s assistance," Bogdanov went on to say.

"There is a U.S.-led coalition, which is delivering air strikes at the Iraqi and Syrian territories. Russian Aerospace Forces are operating in Syria at the request of the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus. We want this coalition to be maximum broad and consolidated to be able to act as a united front against terrorists," the Russian deputy foreign minister said.

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