MOSCOW, December 21./TASS/. Unilateral Western sanctions against Damascus affect common Syrian people and must be lifted, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after talks with UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura with the participation of Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
"Sanctions against the Syrian Arab Republic imposed by certain Western countries and affecting ordinary citizens must be lifted," the diplomat said.
Lavrov stressed that Russia and the United Nations see eye-to-eye as to "the need to step up humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people". "We are confident that this should be done without politicization, without shifting accents in one direction or another, in favor of a certain party to the conflict, without artificially blowing the so-called ‘tragedies of the day’ out of proportion, without any preconditions and linking external assistance to promoting the agenda of a certain external player," the minister stressed.
He also expressed hope that the UN will boost efforts towards coordinating agreements on the participation in humanitarian demining. So far, "UN possibilities in this respect are not engaged at all," he said.
The minister also said that Russia, Iran and Turkey will agree on December 22 in Astana on the participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.
"The issue of what specific organizations and individuals will be invited to that Congress will be considered in Astana tomorrow," Lavrov said. "The Sochi document of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents (the joint statement following the summit in Sochi on November 22 - TASS) states that the three countries will coordinate the lists of invitees," Lavrov noted. "We confirmed that all participants in the Geneva process are invited to the Congress in Sochi, there is no doubt about it."
"As the political process through the Syrian National Dialogue Congress as a contribution to the Geneva talks moves forward, I am confident that we will strictly honor our commitments reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on restoring the Syrian state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," the minister said.
Russia earlier proposed to hold the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Moscow has stressed on numerous occasions that the Congress does not compete with the intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva but is aimed at facilitating progress on that platform.
Military from the countries guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire - Russia, Turkey and Iran, will be coordinating moves to thwart the activity of militants from Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist group outlawed in Russia) in the de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib province, if outrages continue, Lavrov said.
"This may be the most difficult zone. Gunmen from [Jabhat] al-Nusra are still present there, work continues with them to stop outrages. If they fail to comply with the agreements reached by the guarantor states, and the situation remains tense, I think military from the three states will coordinate moves that will help stop this inadmissible activity," Lavrov said.