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Russian UN envoy: Western partners seem to have secret agenda on Syria

April 14, 2016, 1:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the Russian diplomat, efforts to achieve national unity in that country have failed, with Islamic State having got control over strategically important regions

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MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Western countries may have secret plans of further military interference in Libya where the Islamic State terrorist organization is enhancing its positions but any attempts at unilateral actions will be fraught with negative consequences, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said in an interview with the Izvestia daily on Thursday.

"Despite the fact that the Libyan experience is very painful for the Security Council, we now have common interests. They are to restore Libya’s unity and territorial integrity and to prevent this country from turning into a nest of terrorism destabilizing a major part of the African continent," he said.

"But despite this, our Western partners seem to be stopping short of telling the whole truth, which gives an impression that they may have a secret agenda of their own on Libya," Churkin noted. "There have been media reports that the Americans delivered air strikes at Islamic State targets in Libya. Newspapers say a British special force in present in that country. We are warning our Western partners (several days ago this subject was raised at the United Nations Security Council) that unilateral actions will bring about no good. So, let us wait and see whether common sense wins the upper hand with them this time."

According to the Russian diplomat, efforts to achieve national unity in that country have failed, with Islamic State having got control over strategically important regions. "All this requires coordinated efforts of the international community, including via the United Nations Security Council," he underscored.

"US officials seen to be still at loss over Russia’s actions in Syria"

The United States’ officials, especially those from Pentagon, tend to underestimate cooperation with Russia in Syria which gives away their abashment over Russia’s actions in that country in the past six months, Vitaly Churkin said in an interview with the Izvestia daily on Thursday.

"Generally speaking, close Russia-U.S. interaction at various levels - political, diplomatic and military - is the backbone of the crisis settlement efforts. All understand it. And the fact that the Americans, especially Pentagon representatives, are underestimating it may probably mean that they are still at a loss over Russia’s energetic actions in the Syrian track in the recent six months," he said.

Touching on the Syrian settlement process, the Russian diplomat noted that Moscow positively assesses the activities of United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. "He is a proficient and experienced diplomat who generally succeeded in establishing a certain exchange of opinions between the Syrian government delegation and the opposition (given the lack of unity among the latter) during the first round of talks which yielded a document that can be used to try to find common ground and continue the negotiating process," Churkin said.

Currently, according to Churkin, de Mistura’s activities have bigger international support than before, so, his efforts have more chances to be crowned by favorable results.

The Russian diplomat expressed regret that Western members of the United Nations Security Council are unwilling to exert influence on Turkey which is categorically against inviting the Kurds to the peace talks. "Turkey is opposing, absolutely irrationally, to the participation of the Syrian Kurds in the talks. This way it is only prompting them towards ‘separatist sentiments.’ And this is what Ankara fears," he said. "Regrettably, developments around our draft statement demonstrate that the United States and other Western members of the United Nations Security Council do not want to influence Ankara’s position. It is regrettable as in no way promoting the talks.".

"Russia-initiated UN CS resolution aimed at preventing chemical attack by terrorists"

The draft United Nations Security Council resolution initiated by Russia and China binds the countries to immediately report actions of terrorists groups and other non-government entities geared at the development of chemicals weapons and means of their delivery in Syria and its neighbors, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations said on Wednesday after a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

He said the decision to prepare this document was taken following reports about chemical attacks staged by the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo. Apart from that, in his words, numerous reports indicate that terrorists are able to manufacture chemical warfare agents. Having analyzed the situation, Russia and China understood that there is a gap in the Security Council’s documents concerning the use of chemical weapons, he said.

The Russia-and China-initiated draft, in his words, "will fill this gap." The document binds countries, first of all, Syria’s neighbors, to immediately report to the Security Council and the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in Syria about any actions of non-government entities aimed at developing, obtaining, possessing, transporting, transferring or using chemical weapons and means of their delivery.

Necessary step

He said the resolution might look like a "limited step." "But we think it is needed," he said, adding that it will be a constraining factor should the terrorists want to use chemical weapons. "Previous experience demonstrates that they have used such weapons to accuse the Syrian government of it," Churkin said. "We hope that if they are aware we are watching their activities they will have less stimuli to do it."

He said the resolution will be applicable to Syria and its neighbors, as well as Turkey accused by Russia of supporting armed groups. He reminded that before a major gas attack in Syria in August 2013, a group of terrorists had been arrested in Turkey and an investigation had been launched. Later on, it was however abandoned due to some unknown reason. "We think there can be a link between these facts," the Russia diplomat stressed. In his words, Russia is confident that terrorists were behind the chemical attacks in August 2013. These attacks might have been prepared in Turkey, he added.

Commenting on allegations that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government, the Russian diplomat stressed that Damascus’ entire chemical warfare arsenals had been destroyed in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2118. He also drew attention to the fact that fears of a possible chemical attack in a European city subway are linked with Islamic State rather than with the Syrian government. "Thousands of terrorists" are now flooding Europe, he noted, and some of them might bring chemical components or weapons, or even knowledge how to make them.

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