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Palmyra needs mine clearance before UNESCO experts go there — diplomat

March 31, 9:44 UTC+3 GENEVA
Large territories remain mined in Palmyra itself and around it, and urgent measures are needed to clear these territories of mines
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

GENEVA, March 30. /TASS/. Russia has appealed to international organization to take part in mine clearing work in Palmyra, as a UNESCO mission cannot be sent there before this work is done, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Tass on Wednesday.

"As for Palmyra, the situation unfolds as follows: it was liberated from terrorists by Syrian army with support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, and there is no IS [terrorists group] there now," he said.

"But large territories remain mined in Palmyra itself and around it, and urgent measures are needed to clear these territories of mines, without which restoration of destroyed historical monuments cannot be started," Gatilov said.

He said the issue had been discussed in a telephone conversation of President Vladimir Putin with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who fully supported the initiative and confirmed UNESCO’s readiness to take part in restoration of the destroyed monuments when security conditions were created for this.

"That is why the mine clearing issue comes to the forefront now. UNESCO won’t be able to send an expert mission there without it," Gatilov said.

He said Russia had immediately stated its readiness to start de-mining work and send mine experts to Syria. "We also appealed to respective international organizations, including UN organizations, which have such experience so that they take an active part in this work" the top ranking diplomat said.

He also said a special fund had been set up to finance restoration work.

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