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Friends of Syria should focus on fighting terrorism, not accusing Damascus — diplomat

November 13, 2014, 20:18 UTC+3
Friends of Syria group confirmed their support for a US Train-and-Equip Program for the moderate Syrian opposition and announced their intention to make a practical contribution to its implementation
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MOSCOW, November 13 /TASS/. The Friends of Syria group should fight terrorism instead of launching unsubstantiated accusations against Syrian government, which, as they say, is unwilling to conduct negotiations, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

“The government forces are actively fighting against terrorists in all parts of the country. The US-led anti-terror coalition continues its struggle against the Islamic State. However, without coordination with the Syrian government they will be unable to reverse the momentum and take the upper hand over the terrorist groups,” Lukashevich explained.

“Against this background, a meeting of high-ranking officials from the nucleus of the so-called Friends of Syria group that took place in London on November 10 has come into spotlight. They confirmed their support for a US Train-and-Equip Program for the moderate Syrian opposition and announced their intention to make a practical contribution to its implementation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

“Instead of searching for ways of establishing cooperation in fighting terrorism, the participants in the Friends of Syria meeting have, for no substantiated reason, accused Damascus of unwillingness to hold negotiations on settlement,” Lukashevich said adding that the group had even agreed to increase sanctions pressure on the Syrian government.

“In this connection, we can remember that the European Union softened its restrictions on Syria in April 2013 and allowed purchasing oil from non-state traders. The EU move indirectly contributed to financial strengthening of the ‘Islamic State’ and of another terrorist organization - Jabhat al-Nusra, which controls hydrocarbon reserves in northeastern Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson stressed.

“Anti-terror struggle is a priority for Russia. It is exerting every effort on the track of this country’s settlement on the basis of the Geneva agreements of June 30, 2012,” the Russian diplomat said.

“We support the idea of Staffan de Mistura, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for Syria, that the process should be based on an intra-Syrian dialogue in accordance with provisions of the Geneva communique without any preliminary conditions,” Lukashevich said.

“We are urging our international and regional partners to join the Russian efforts,” the diplomat said in conclusion.

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