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Russia remains Syria's main ally in fight against terrorism — Damascus’ chief negotiator

December 14, 2017, 18:46 UTC+3

Direct talks with the Syrian opposition are impossible, says Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari

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GENEVA, December 14. /TASS/. Russia is Syria’s key ally in the fight against terrorism, 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 Thursday.

"Russia is our key ally in the fight against terrorism," he said commenting on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to the Khmeimim airbase.

"Fight against terrorism in Syria is possible only in coordination with the government," he stressed.

Direct talks with the Syrian opposition are impossible until it abandons the Riyadh communique and forms a really representative delegation, he went on. 

"To begin any direct talks, it is necessary that the opposition delegation fulfil two requirements: those who are behind the opposition delegation must revoke the Riyadh communique and a really representative delegation must be formed in line with UN resolution 2254," he said.

"Those who drafted the Riyadh communique are those who have sabotaged this round. I mean Saudi Arabia and those who control Saudi Arabia, i.e. Western countries," al-Jaafari said. 

"We gave the mediator [United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura] 23 working documents on the four negotiating baskets and the 12-point working document. It means we are working positively on the Geneva agenda," he said.

"We have a serious approach (to the talks) but we will never accept any blackmail from terrorists who are seeking to exert pressure on us and on the Geneva process. From the very beginning of the talks, the Syrian government has insisted on agreeing two ‘baskets’ - anti-terror efforts and political process," he said, adding that the government delegation has been "taking part in all the eight rounds in earnest."

The eighth round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva involving delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition is coming to a close. Later in the day, de Mistura is expected to give a news conference to sum up the results of the three-week discussions.

"A war on terrorism goes on in Syria. That is why we suggested the topic of anti-terror efforts be central to this round," he said, summing up the results of the talks. "We had lengthy discussions on the ‘fourth basket’ (which includes this topic), stressing that anti-terror efforts are a key to the discussion of other negotiating ‘baskets’ (state administration in the transition period, new constitution and elections."

He drew attention to the fact that terrorists’ attacks coincide with negotiating rounds or UN Security Council meeting dedicated to the situation in Syria. "During our meeting with UN special envoy [on Syria Staffan] de Mistura today, we focused on acts of terror in Syria," al -Jaafari said.

The eighth round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva involving delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition is coming to a close. Later in the day, de Mistura is expected to give a news conference to sum up the results of the three-week discussions.

"People who are behind armed groups in Syria are behind the opposition delegation," he said. "We have an impression that these people shed blood, attack villages and murder people living there each time a regular round of talks begins."

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