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Lavrov slams initiative to set up NATO-controlled safe zone in Syria

The foreign minister recalled the agreement between Russia and Turkey on resolving the situation in the country

KIRKENES /Norway/, October 25. /TASS/. The idea to set up a NATO-controlled safe zone in northeastern Syria will come to no good, since there is an agreement on resolving the situation in the country reached by Russia and Turkey, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in Kirkenes on Friday.

He noted that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg "began making strange statements that some NATO members back this idea" and some others are not particularly enthusiastic about it. "Since they say that NATO wants to assume responsibility [for creating a safe zone in northeastern Syria — TASS], of course, there is nothing good about this idea. There are the Russian-Turkish agreements backed by both Damascus and the Kurds. They must be implemented," he said.

Commenting on the initiative to set up an internationally controlled safe zone in northeastern Syria, Lavrov noted that there was no understanding in Russia what specifically was meant. "That initiative was first put forward by German Defense Minister [Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer], but it was immediately criticized by other parts of the German government," he added.

On October 21, Kramp-Karrenbauer came up with the initiative to set up an internationally controlled safe zone in Syria on the border with Turkey with the assistance of Moscow and Ankara.

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum at a meeting in Sochi on joint actions aimed at resolving the situation in northeastern Syria. The document envisaged that Russian military police and Syrian border guards should enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG (People's Protection Units) units and their weapons to the depth of 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurdish units were given 150 hours to complete the process.