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Russia, Turkey, Jordan discuss return of Syrian refugees, says Lavrov

The Russian top diplomat hails talks with Jordan on refugees' return to Syria

SINGAPORE, August 2. /TASS/. Intensive talks with Turkey and Jordan on return of refugees to Syria are underway at present, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday upon the completion of events in the format of an ASEAN conference.

"Very successful talks with Jordan are in progress now and I think we’ll see their results in the short term," he said. "Similar talks with Turkey are underway, too, and Turkey admitted the biggest number of Syrian refugees - about three million."

Lavrov said that the EU could be equally interested in the return of refugees to Syria from Europe if it pursued its own interests.

"The country that has genuine interest in this [process] is Lebanon and the refugees have already started returning from there," Lavrov said. "For the time being, they are coming back home in small groups but several thousands of them are already in Syria and our military police are assisting them."

Some UN agencies are in no hurry to provide assistance to Syrian refugees on Damascus-controlled territories and toe the Western line in this matter, he said.

"At an early stage, we worked with the UN at the level of the secretary general, at the level of the Humanitarian Affairs Office and at the level of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," he said. "We have an interested response from the UNHCR, which was outlined by the deputy high commissioner in Sochi at the Astana format meeting on July 30-31."

"As for other UN agencies, we have a feeling, which we would like to double-check, that they are guided by the West’s stance and wait until this position changes," Russia’s top diplomat noted. "So far, we have seen no UN employees in the areas controlled by the government where assistance is needed to restore the destroyed life-support systems. I hope this is a false impression, this could be a mere coincidence.".