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Splitting Syria is not purpose of de-escalation zones - Lavrov

September 10, 16:01 updated at: September 10, 16:07 UTC+3

Russia’s Foreign Minister hopes agreement on 4th de-escalation zone in Syria may be formalized at Astana

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

JEDDAH /Saudi Arabia/, September 10. /TASS/. The de-escalation zones in Syria are organized as temporary, and nobody is going to use them to split the country into enclaves, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday after negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

"The purpose of the de-escalation zones is to stop the violence," the Russian minister said. "It is not a permanent measure, and nobody who agree those zones has an intention of keeping them for good, thus in fact having long-term enclaves in the Syrian territory."

"The agreement is their term is six months, and it is clear already the result is evident, the ceasefire is generally observed," Lavrov added. The purpose of the de-escalation zones is "to begin spreading across Syria the space, where ceasefire is observed, where peaceful life is developing."

"A very important element of the program to organize the de-escalation zones is beginning of dialogue via the national reconciliation committees," he said. "Inside those zones there is interest to having the committees to begin talks with the government."

"This would be a very important addition to the efforts to have in Geneva a direct dialogue at the negotiation table under auspices of the UN," Lavrov said. "If we establish local reconciliation processes in the regions, I believe, the work would move quicker, more effective, and the space, where ceasefire is observed and where the national dialogue emerges, will be expanding to involve eventually entire Syria."

De-escalation zones in Syria

At the Astana meeting on Syria in May, the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire (Russia, Iran and Turkey) signed a memorandum on setting up de-escalation zones in the war-torn country.

The de-escalation zones include the Idlib Province, some parts of its neighboring areas in the Latakia, Hama and Aleppo Provinces north of the city of Homs, Eastern Ghouta, as well as the Daraa and al-Quneitra Provinces in southern Syria.

Starting from May 6, military activities and aircraft flights in the de-escalation zones are banned. Three de-escalation zones have already been established, while the fourth zone in the Idlib Province is being set up.

The document’s term is six months, with an optional further extension.

Riyadh’s efforts in organization of Syrian opposition’s delegation

Russia support Saudi Arabia’s efforts in organization of the Syrian opposition’s delegation for talks with Damascus, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday after talks with the Saudi Arabian counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

"We support actively the efforts of the Saudi counterparts in uniting various groups of the opposition - Riyadh, Moscow, Cairo - in organization of the opposition’s team for talks with the government in Geneva," Lavrov said. "A similar work continues in Astana."

"My counterparts and I share the position that when this union happens, we should stimulate everyone on the delegation to work on a platform, which would be aimed at the purpose: the way towards settlement is settled with the Syrians," he said. "As for the adherence to political methods in settlement of conflicts, we do not have discrepancies with Saudi Arabia."

The Russian foreign minister continued saying that in fighting terrorism "force methods cannot be avoided."

"However, for the final settlement along with defeat of the terrorists, of course we should focus on processes of political settlement, which mean mandatory involvement in the inclusive dialogue of all the ethnic-confessional groups," Lavrov said.

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