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Refusing cooperation with Syria while launching airstrikes on its territory wrong — Lavrov

October 27, 2014, 16:49 UTC+3

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview with the TASS said the chances for the resumption of the negotiations on Syria are improving

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. It is wrong to refuse cooperation with Syria and at the same time declare the right to launch airstrikes on terrorists in its territory in a situation where the Syrian leadership sincerely seeks relevant cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told TASS in an exclusive interview on Monday.

“It is encouraging that the fight against terrorism is now universally recognised as the most important task in the region,” the minister said. “But specific actions to fulfil this task should be based on international law and with all the interested parties involved.”

“In our view, it is wrong to refuse from cooperation with Syria and declare the right to launch airstrikes on terrorists in its territory when the Syrian leadership is sincerely interested in developing interaction in this matter,” Lavrov said. “So, compliance with international law is highly desirable here,” he added.

More chances for Syria negotiations resumption

The chances for the resumption of the negotiations on Syria are improving, but the situation has long been neglected, Sergey Lavrov told TASS.

“I think the chances are improving now for the resumption of the political process of Syrian settlement,” Lavrov said. “(UN Special Envoy for Syria) Staffan de Mistura is a very experienced diplomat who has spent many years in the Middle East as special representative of many (UN) secretaries-general in different countries of the region. His experience is highly valuable now on the Syrian track.”

“The situation around the settlement has long been neglected,” the minister said. 

“After several months of preparations for a start of the political process we were making on the basis of a Russian-US initiative, declared during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow in May 2012, we held the Montreux conference in January 2013,” Lavrov recalled. Then there followed several rounds of direct talks between the National Coalition of the so-called Opposition forces and a delegation of the Syrian government.”

“Then the talks were stalled for far-fetched reasons,” Lavrov said. “Although the parties agreed on an agenda to discuss the two tasks simultaneously — the struggle with terrorism and the coordination of parameters of the political process, which was extremely specific.”

“The suspension of the negotiations, and in fact their termination, I believe was made artificial and ill-considered,” Lavrov said. “In my current contacts with John Kerry and other countries of the region and the Persian Gulf states there is the understanding of the need for finding a slightly renewed basis for resuming political negotiations.”

Lavrov said that was obviously felt during the summit level contacts, in particular, the negotiations between the Russian president and the king of Bahrain, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates and the King of Jordan.

“We feel the awareness the status quo is counterproductive,” Lavrov said.

 Excluding Iran and Saudi Arabia from negotiations on Syria is big mistake

Russian Foreign Minister also said that it would be a great mistake to exclude Iran and Saudi Arabia from negotiations on Syria.

During his recent visit to Moscow, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura set forth some ideas how to create political conditions for the talks to start.

“Prior to his visit to the Russian capital, Staffan de Mistura had visited Iran. First, it is necessary to draw lessons from the past and ensure full-scale rather than selective representation of all opposition forces at such talks,” Lavrov said.

“The opposition negotiating team should certainly include representatives of the national coalition and other opposition groups, including those who do not represent external opposition but work as part of opposition groups in Syria,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“Without them, the negotiation process is not going to be full-fledged. I hope that all the other leading participants in these efforts will show their broad understanding,” Lavrov stressed.

“Second, the principle of inclusiveness should be applied not only to the Syrian participants in the process but also to external players,” the Russian foreign minister went on to say.

“We consider it to be a great mistake to exclude countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia from the list of negotiators. All Syrian neighbors without exception should be represented at the negotiating table while the key members of the League of Arab States and the Gulf Cooperation Council should be included in the process as external negotiators,” Lavrov said.

“We are going to exert every effort to make the process resume as early as possible. We have never stopped efforts aimed at creating conditions for it. We maintain regular daily contacts with the government and all Syrian opposition groups without exception,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“We are trying to convince them to take a constructive stance, give up political ambitions and think more about the future of their country which should preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity and remain multinational and multi-confessional. Undermining this diversity of cultures would be disastrous not only for the country but for the whole region,” Lavrov said.

Syrian FM to visit Moscow

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will visit Russia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and the president’s special envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday.

“Now we are preparing for the visit of the (Syrian) foreign minister,” Bogdanov said at the meeting with Sheikh Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun, Supreme Mufti of Syria.

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