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Russia’s UN envoy cautions that reports of air strikes against Idlib hospitals are false

Russia’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, gave an interview ahead of the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Week
Idlib province, Syria Ugur Can/DHA via AP, File
Idlib province, Syria
© Ugur Can/DHA via AP, File

UNITED NATIONS, September 23. /TASS/. The commission probing into rumored air strikes in Syria’s Idlib must take into account the evidence Russia has provided concerning the real condition of the humanitarian facilities, Russia’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, told TASS in an interview ahead of the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Week.

"First and foremost the commission is to find out how the United Nations participates in the deconflicting mechanism," he said about UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s decision to set up a commission to investigate suspected air attacks against civilian infrastructures in Idlib.

"It has turned out that many of the reports behind the charges against Russia and Syria are fake," Nebenzya said. "Moscow often receives inaccurate information from the United Nations about the facilities featuring on the deconflicting list and the allegedly affected facilities. Eventually it turns out that all of these facilities are safe and sound and remain intact."

"Now we regularly get such information [from the Russian Defense Ministry about the inauthenticity of UN data — TASS] and we will find a way of letting it known to the United Nations and the organizations we cooperate with directly within the framework of the deconflicting mechanism," Nebenzya said. "May they forward this evidence to the investigation commission, which will surely have to take it into account in its conclusions."

Ten UN Security Council member-states (Belgium, Britain, Germany, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, the United States and France) asked the UN Secretary-General to launch the probe. The commission gets down to work on September 30.

Syria Constitutional Committee

Russia expects that the United Nations will declare the launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee this week, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told TASS.

"I sincerely hope that this decision will be announced before the end of Russia’s presidency [in the UN Security Council in late September]," Nebenzya said. On September 30, the UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the situation in Syria and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen will hold a briefing. "I hope this will be a briefing where he will declare the committee’s creation."

"I know that we are very close," Nebenzya said. "At the summit in Ankara the ‘Astana trio’ approved the constitutional committee’s makeup, which had been a stumbling block for a very long time. Just a few finishing touches are left to finally agree on all details."

On January 30, 2018, participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, decided to establish a constitutional committee that would work on the country’s new constitution.

The 150-member committee is supposed to include representatives of the Syrian government and opposition, as well as civil society members. Each group will appoint 15 experts to hold closed door consultations in Geneva.

US visa non-issuance issue

The United States is resorting to blackmail and pressure, threatening to not issue visas to leaders of Iran and other countries who intend to travel to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya said in an interview with TASS on the eve of the 74th UN General Assembly session in New York.

"Threats to not issue visas to leaders of a number of states who arrive for the high-level week are attempted pressure and blackmail from their side," he underlined.

"The way the host country is treating certain member states is, of course, unworthy of such a great country as the US," Nebenzya continued. "They introduce absurd restrictions on the Iranians, for instance, who must walk a tightrope by shuttling between their mission and the UN. Any step in other direction is considered fleeing. I saw a message saying that Cuban diplomats are restricted in their movement and only allowed to move around Manhattan."

The permanent representative also emphasized that "not only do Americans draw out the visa issuing process, but also sometimes fail to issue them [visas] at all." "This is what happened to us last year, when head of the delegation to a disarmament commission could not obtain a visa."

"Undeniably, this raises questions whether the US is honoring its obligations in good faith," he underlined.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the United States was dodging its responsibility to issue visas to participants of the upcoming UN General Assembly session. However, he and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani were still issued last moment visas to arrive in New York. Nevertheless, the US imposed movement restriction on Zarif in the city.