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Russia and Syria won't extend Aleppo humanitarian pause unilaterally

October 19, 2016, 14:34 UTC+3
According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Unilateral prolongation would be tantamount to retreat"
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© Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. Unilateral prolongation of the humanitarian pause in Aleppo by Russia and the Syrian government will be impossible, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the media on Wednesday.

"I rule out the possibility Russia and the Syrian government will jointly prolong the humanitarian pause," Ryabkov said. "A decision may follow only on the basis of agreements."

He explained that Russia was perfectly aware of double dealing by those who were trying to score points on Aleppo’s humanitarian problems and put Damascus and Moscow in a situation where they would have to ask for excuse.

"In the meantime, it is they [such double-dealers - TASS], who are obliged to provide explanations, because Nusra’s separation from the moderate opposition has not taken place to this day," Ryabkov said. "These and other circumstances show that the policy of this group of states has a false bottom."

"Unilateral prolongation would be tantamount to retreat. We will not agree to it," he added.

The Russian delegation is ready to continue participating in the experts' meeting on Syria in Geneva as long as needed.

"There is a possibility that the meeting will continue tomorrow," the diplomat said. "Our delegation is ready to stay there for as long as needed in order to achieve positive results," the deputy minister stressed. 

No Lavrov-Kerry meeting planned any time soon 

Negotiations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are not scheduled for the foreseeable future, Ryabkov noted: 

"I cannot see that our minister is going to initiate such a meeting," Ryabkov said. "One has already been held. Last Saturday there were talks with Kerry, including bilateral negotiations."

The senior diplomat reiterated that on Tuesday, Lavrov said that experts "with maps in their hands, but not the military, should work" to resolve the Syria crisis.

"The foreign ministers will meet when it is necessary," Ryabkov emphasized. "They are maintaining contact, by phone as well."

"As of now, the top priority is to resume effective military cooperation," he said.

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