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Washington uses terror groups in Syria for its own goals — Lavrov

November 21, 11:25 UTC+3

Moscow has established stable cooperation with Washington on Syria, but there are big problems concerning the condemnation of terrorists, the top diplomat said

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© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

YEREVAN, November 21. /TASS/. The United States uses terror groups in Syria to achieve its own goals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"We have established rather stable cooperation with Washington on Syria," Lavrov said. "But there are big problems concerning the condemnation of terrorists and extremists."

"There is information that the US uses extremist groups, which have to be isolated and destroyed, for its own goals, promoting its agenda despite the claims that the US is only working in Syria to eliminate terror groups," Lavrov stressed.

Lavrov has also reported about his upcoming contacts with the US State Department’s leadership to discuss the Syrian crisis.

"In the next couple of days, I will continue contacts with the State Department’s leadership, we will discuss all this (situation in Syria)," Lavrov told reporters.

According to the Russian foreign minister, Riyad Hijab’s resignation and the retreating of other radical opposition leaders to the background will help bring together the opponents of the Syrian government on a constructive basis.

While commenting on Riyad Hijab’s resignation as Chief Coordinator of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Lavrov said he expected "the retreating of radical opposition leaders to the background to help the Syria-based and foreign-based opposition unite on a constructive basis."

"We will support Saudi Arabia’s efforts in this direction," the Russian top diplomat added.

According to Lavrov, Hijab’s resignation was long overdue.

"Those following the unification of the Syrian opposition, like our counterparts from Saudi Arabia, predicted this move," the Russian foreign minister said. "We worked with Riyad Hijab after he had left Syria as the country’s prime minister and became a leader of the opposition forces. I held meetings with him, as well as my deputy. He was pulling the opposition in the wrong direction - not towards the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, which has become the Bible of the Syrian settlement process, but towards ultimatums," Lavrov noted.

The major ultimatum, in Lavrov’s words, was based on a demand for Bashar al-Assad’s resignation as a condition for further talks. "It is completely contrary to the UN Security Council resolution, which stipulates that only the Syrian people are eligible to decide the future of their country, while the issue should be resolved only through inclusive talks involving the government and the entire range of the opposition groups," the Russian top diplomat added.

Syrian opposition activities

Head of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee Riyad Hijab announced his resignation on Monday night. Several other people also resigned from high ranking positions in the NHC. The move was made in the Saudi capital during a preparatory meeting ahead of the opposition conference, scheduled for November 22, at which a single opposition delegation to the next round of the Geneva talks on Syria is expected to be formed.

At the meeting, a significant debate arose over the opposition’s attitude to Bashar al-Assad and the possibility to include representatives of the so-called Moscow and Cairo groups in the delegation. Some opposition members insisted on Assad’s immediate resignation. At the same time, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geneva office and other Geneva-based International Organizations Alexei Borodavkin said in an interview with Russia’s Izvestia daily that in order to ensure the success of the upcoming talks, the opposition should abandon its demand for Assad’s immediate resignation, support the setup of de-escalation zones and the fight against terrorism. Assad, in turn, said earlier that Damascus was committed to launching a political reform, which stipulated that a new draft constitution should be drawn up and parliamentary election should be held in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

The next round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva will begin on November 28.

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