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Up to 1,000 people displaced inside Syria daily return home — Russian diplomat

March 30, 17:25 UTC+3 GENEVA
Moscow assumes that "humanitarian assistance and prospects of peaceful life for the Syrians will be a guarantee that internally displaced persons won’t join the army of refugees outside their country"
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© Depo Photos via AP, File

GENEVA, March 30. /TASS/. Moscow welcomes the return of people internally displaced inside Syria to their homes, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the high-level meeting on global responsibility sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees on Wednesday.

"The situation with people internally displaced inside Syria remains in the focus of our attention," the top-ranking diplomat said. "We see a positive tendency in a stable decline in their numbers over the recent time," he said, noting that "according to available data, up to 1,000 people return to their homes every day".

Moscow assumes that "humanitarian assistance and prospects of peaceful life for the Syrians will be a guarantee that internally displaced persons won’t join the army of refugees outside their country," Gatilov added.

UNESCO missions should not be sent to Palmyra until demining complete

Russia has addressed international organizations, in particular UNESCO, with a proposal to assist in restoring cultural heritage in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra that was recently liberated from terrorists, Gennady Gatilov said.

"Very large territories remain mined both in Palmyra and around it," Gatilov said. "The issue is on the agenda on taking urgent measures to demine these territories. Without this, measures to restore destroyed monuments should not be taken," he added.

Opposition’s disunity, absence of Kurds hinder intra-Syrian negotiations

The disunity of the Syrian opposition and the absence of Kurdish representatives in the delegations have a negative impact on the course of the intra-Syrian negotiations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister went on to say.

"This, of course, would be preferable," he said, answering a question about the need to unite the opposition groups into a single delegation.

"In order to achieve results, ideally it is necessary to have two sides: the government delegation and the opposition delegation," Gatilov said. "But the real situation is such that it (the opposition) cannot unite due to the existing contradictions between different groups."

According to the Russian deputy foreign minister, the UN leadership and the UN special envoy for Syria realize this. "They call upon all countries that have the corresponding influence on individual groups, to exert efforts to bring them to a common platform," he said. "It is no easy task, because there are contradictions not only between the groups, but also within them, between their individual members. This has a negative impact on the course of the intra-Syrian negotiations."

According to the high-ranking diplomat, "The same applies to the absence of Kurds at the negotiations." "The Kurdish opposition has still not been presented [in the negotiations]," he said. "This situation needs to be corrected."

On March 24, the first round of indirect intra-Syrian talks ended in Geneva. Their participants — a delegation of the Syrian government and a delegation of the opposition - did not meet each other but communicated through special envoy of the UN secretary general on Syria Staffan de Mistura. Discussions are due to resume in the first half of April.

On Saturday, Russia's envoy to the UN office and other international organizations in Geneva Alexei Borodavkin told TASS that overall, "the delegations have demonstrated a serious approach and an intention to discuss practical ways of getting out of the Syrian crisis. No one, and this has been noted by the special envoy [Staffan de Mistura], tried to blame the other side for illegitimacy," Borodavkin said.

According to the diplomatic official, "it is important to ensure presence of a wide spectrum of Syrian opposition groups in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution and the documents of the International Syria Support Group in this round [of talks]." Meanwhile, Borodavkin said, "as de Mistura pointed out the delegations from the local patriotic opposition proved themselves as professionals, having prepared position papers, and demonstrated a serious approach to the discussion of all aspects of the Syrian settlement." "The result of the round [of talks] inspires cautious optimism," Borodavkin added.

Parties supporting Syria peace should break away from terrorist groups

To see a truce achieved in Syria it is necessary that the parties supporting the peace process break away from terrorist groups, Gatilov noted.

"The main task as concerns the ceasefire is to determine the parties to which the truce applies, and those that continue hostile activity and reject a political settlement, against which military operations will continue," the diplomat said.

He said this was the subject matter of a dialog with American partners. "Of course, everybody voted for the UN Security Council resolution on those groups that must be recognized as terrorists, but there are certain nuances - some terrorist groups have turned out to be intermingled with each other," he went on.

"Those who recognize the political process and are ready to participate in the ceasefire must simply break away from terrorists adhering to other positions," Gatilov said.

"Then, strikes won’t target them. If they are really in favor of a peace dialogue, they should behave respectively," the top diplomat added.

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