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De-escalation zones should mark step towards Syria's unity, not division, says Putin

"I wouldn't really like to see the zones turn into prototypes of the territorial split of Syria in the future," Russian President said

PARIS, May 31. /TASS/. De-escalation zones in Syria should not play the role of prototypes of the country's territorial split but, much rather, would help establish collaboration between the parties of the civil conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Le Figaro.

"I wouldn't really like to see the zones turn into prototypes of the territorial split of Syria in the future," he said. "On the contrary, I hope people who will take control of the situation there will collaborate with the official Syrian authorities."

"These are prerequisites for cooperation and the process of purely political reconciliation or, if possible, the elaboration of constitutional rules, the (drafting of) Constitution and the elections will be the next step," Putin said.

The Russian leader said the case in hand at the moment was the setting up of four zones of de-escalation - a very important step on the road to peace, since there was no talking about a political process without ceasefire.

The task of the day, according to Putin, was "to round out the process of establishing the de-escalation zones technically and to reach agreement on their geographic boundaries, on how the decentralized institutes of power will function there and on how their communications with the outside world will be organized."

In this connection, Putin called attention to French President Emmanuel Macron’s opinion regarding humanitarian convoys in Syria.

"President Macron and I had a discussion and he raised the problem of humanitarian convoys," Putin said. "He’s right in this and I agreed with him. That’s one of the points of contact on which we can work together."

"After these de-escalation zones take concrete contours, I think cooperation - event though at the most elementary level - between the government and the people who will have control over the zones can begin," he said.

The delegations of Russia, Iran and Turkey reached agreement in the course of the talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 3 and May 4. In line with the arrangement, a ban on military activities including the flights of military aircraft took effect in these zones on May 6.

The document will stay effective over a period of six months and the agreement envisions a possibility of its automatic prolongation for another six months.

Along with it, the establishing of de-escalation zones does not imply an end to struggle with the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groupings.