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Moscow calls for publishing agreement with US on Syria — Lavrov

September 13, 14:35 UTC+3
The Russian foreign minister says Moscow suggests making the agreement public to ensure there are no doubts whether the sides comply with it
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© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. Moscow is for the publication of its agreement with the United States on Syria and for seeking its approval by the UN Security Council without any amendments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

"We hear Washington say it is not sure whether Russia will comply with the agreements in their original form, the way they were written down," Lavrov said. "This is a strange statement, especially if one bears in mind that the agreements incorporate the United States’ reaffirmed obligations to separate terrorists from the moderate opposition."

The United States, he recalled, assumed that obligation early this year.

"Soon it will be twelve months since then. Nothing has been done. Moreover, there’ve been speculations the moderate opposition should not be separated from al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia - TASS), but legalized altogether and possibly, merged with ever more groups in order to create an effective force on the ground for resistance to the Syrian army," he said, adding that "all this will require a very frank discussion."

"To ensure there should be no doubts as to how we will go about the business of implementing the agreement in its original form we have suggested making it public after all. Not keeping it secret, contrary to the wish of our US partners," Lavrov said. "We have nothing to hide. Everything that is stated there is a matter of agreement."

"We’ve assumed the commitment to comply with everything diligently and to encourage all those on whom the implementation of various section of this agreement depends to adhere to all this honesty and openly," Lavrov said.

He said once again that Russia would be pressing for the publication of these agreements.

"And we suggest presenting this document to the UN Security Council for approval without any amendments," Lavrov said.

Political process in Syria can no longer be delayed

According to the top diplomat, it is inadmissible to delay the resumption of the political process in Syria.

"Of course, we talked about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, above all, in the light of the situation with strengthening the positions of terrorists groups and in the light of need for an uncompromising fight against the IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and all those hiding under their umbrella," Lavrov said.

"The Russian-US document package agreed in Geneva on September 9 (9-10), which has come into force, is to help to start moving towards resolving the Syrian crisis in the context of solving anti-terrorist tasks and improving the humanitarian situation, strengthening the cessation of hostilities regime by all parties to the truce, and terrorists are certainly not among them," the minister said.

"All this should lay the groundwork for resuming the intra-Syrian political process, delaying which is inadmissible," Lavrov emphasized. "This is what we told UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva."

Situation around Jabhat al-Nusra

Lavrov stressed the situation around Jabhat al-Nusra, which is about to be excluded from the list of terrorist organizations, will be in focus of a serious conversation with the United States. 

"A more pressing task today is to see to it that the list of terrorist groups is not abridged. There is too much evidence that former Jabhat al-Nusra, now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia - TASS), is considered by many participants in the Middle East processes as a force that is to be kept in place for the change of regime in Syria," Lavrov said. "I asked this question to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly. He categorically denies that the United States is planning to offer protection to al-Nusra, to spare it from the threat of coalition air strikes."

"I have no grounds not to believe in sincerity of [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry when he pledged al-Nusra would remain in the list of terrorist organizations, but there is evidence that not everybody thinks so," he said.

"Now one of the leaders of the Ahrar al-Sham group claims commenting on our agreement with the United States that the key problem in terms of the implementation of this agreement in continuing to have Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization not covered by the regime of cessation of hostilities," Lavrov said. "Then, he said that al-Nusra has allegedly broken away from Al Qaeda and is working for the Syrian revolution."

In his words, such comments appear in the British media as well. "They say the problem with the implementation of the agreement will be rooted in the fact that Jabhat al-Nusra has been unjustly listed as a terrorist organization," the Russian top diplomat noted.

"It is a subject for a very serious conversation with our American partners," he stressed. "Because I have no grounds not to believe John Kerry. But what is going on on the ground… we see that the coalition is unwilling to deliver strikes at al-Nusra positions. Those on Washington who are responsible for the military aspects of these processes could provide some information to us."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry on September 10 declared after thirteen hours of talks they had achieved an agreement on Syria. It envisages the resumption of the termination of hostilities regime, the disengagement of the opposition and the terrorists and the sharing of areas of strikes against terrorists between the Russian Aerospace Force and the US Air Force.

Lavrov and Kerry said they hoped the agreement would bring about a resumption of intra-Syrian talks. The UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said for his part that he would hold consultations with the Un Secretary-General regarding a likely date when such talks might resume.

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