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Lavrov: Moscow-Brussels-Kiev dialogue on situation in Ukraine justified

December 16, 2013, 22:55 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

He also said that Russia would help Syrians foster an inclusive dialogue so that they could come to agreement on their own future

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BRUSSELS, December 16, (ITAR-TASS). EU countries understand the need to discuss the situation in Ukraine in a trilateral format with Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting with this EU colleagues.

“There are many countries in the European Union that think that the Ukrainian situation should be discussed in a trilateral format. Ukraine is a major economic partner of the EU and Russia. Russia, European countries and Customs Union account for a large portion of Ukraine’s trade turnover,” Lavrov said.

“Before offering some obsessive schemes of further cooperation between Ukraine and the EU, it will only be logical to sit down and look at the economic consequences such schemes will have for all parties involved in this process, taking into account the enormous amount of their economic and humanitarian ties,” the minister said.

“Such trilateral cooperation will only be justified,” he added.

Syrian issue

Sergei Lavrov also said his country would help Syrians foster an inclusive dialogue so that they could come to agreement on their own future.

“We are not just watching passively. Unlike the West which is working only with the opposition, we are working both with the government and the opposition. We meet with all opposition groups and want to hear what they wish for their country. We will help Syrians foster an inclusive dialogue and move to do what the international community expects them to do - come to agreement on the future of their country,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his EU colleagues on Monday, December 16.

He also commented on the Islamic Front, which has been created by the Syrian opposition and which has proclaimed radical goals. “Our Western partners are trying to build bridges with it, positioning it as the most acceptable force that has influence over someone. We know that when this Front was being created, the possibility of incorporating Jabhat al-Nusra into it was discussed,” Lavrov said, adding that it had not been incorporated into the Front to keep its reputation untainted because Jabhat al-Nusra had been designated a terrorist organisation in the United States and Europe.

Members of the opposition were repeatedly invited to Moscow and many leaders did come, he recalled. “We now have invited the National Coalition, and its leader Ahmad al-Jarba said he would come. They have to be talked to anyway. But while the National Coalition’s sponsors are trying to present it as the main force that will represent all opponents of the regime at the talks, this ‘main force’ is beginning to come apart at the seams,” Lavrov said earlier.

“There have been statements, and we want to verify them, that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of the National Coalition and which said it would have its own special approaches, has either seceded or distanced itself from it. There have been reports saying that the majority of combat units of the so-called Free Syrian Army are no longer subordinated to the National Coalition; if they have ever been subordinated to it. The very latest information, which has been confirmed, by the way, indicates that more than twenty such units have pooled their ranks to form the Islamic Front. This organisation does not recognise either the Syrian Free Army or the National Coalition or Al-Qaeda. But it is made up of the groups that are very close in spirit to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - extremist and Al-Qaeda-like Jihadist groups. This Islamic Front had said its goal is to create a caliphate in Syria and the greater Levant. There are contradictory reports about who finances this structure. We will need to look into all this,” Lavrov said.

“There are also combat units subordinated to different political forces and there are those who are not subordinated to anyone, who oppose the regime but are convinced of the need to preserve the secular nature of the state. And there are extremists and terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and other of Al-Qaeda’s off-springs which openly state their intention to create a caliphate in Syria and around it. These ideas are also preached by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group that has recently distanced itself from Al-Qaeda. So there are a variety of groups with differing ideologies and approaches to the future of the country,” Lavrov noted.

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