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Syria’s government says anti-terrorism efforts should be priority topic at Geneva talks

March 24, 18:08 UTC+3

"Terrorism is Syria’s main problem today," Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari said

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GENEVA, March 24. /TASS/. Syria’s government thinks that anti-terrorism efforts must be number one topic at the Geneva talks, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari, who leads the government delegation to the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, said on Friday.

"Terrorism is Syria’s main problem today," he said after a meeting with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

"We spoke about it with de Mistura. So, we plan to begin tomorrow’s meeting with the discussion of the terrorism-related ‘basket,’" he said.

When asked by journalists whether there are any changes in the approaches to the discussion of the for ‘baskets’ [formation of the government, schedule for constitutional work, elections, and anti-terrorism efforts - TASS], al-Jaafari noted that all the four blocks of issues will be discussed in parallel. However, in his words, in a situation when escalation is reported from Damascus and Hama, anti-terrorism effort are to be of top priority.

"The baskets will be discussed in parallel. They are of equal importance and we can begin with any of them. But the developments [in Syria] I have already mentioned make us focus on the fourth basket," he said.

According to al-Jaafari, de Mistura expressed understanding about this position and agreed to begin discussions with the topic of fighting against terrorism.

Russia’s initiatives advanced in Astana

Syria’s government hails Russian initiatives put forth in Astana both in the area of cessation of hostilities and in the area of political settlement, al-Jaafari said.

"We hail Russia’s initiatives on strengthening ceasefire and political settlement that were advanced in Astana," he said after a meeting with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

The latest round of peace consultations in Astana on March 14-15 focused on initiatives on mechanisms for ceasefire monitoring, regulations on settlements joining the ceasefire, and mechanisms of prisoner exchange. It is planned to finalize work on these initiatives at a technical meeting in Teheran scheduled for mid-April to refer them to the participants in the next meeting in Astana in early May.

The Russian delegation also referred to the Syrian government its proposals on the establishment of a constitutional commission.

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