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Lavrov stresses any 'on the ground' action in Syria should be coordinated with Damascus

It is necessary to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity in Syria, Russia's top diplomat said

BEIJING, June 19. /TASS/. All countries should respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and coordinate any actions "on the ground" with Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following a meeting between BRICS foreign ministers on Monday.

"As for what is happening ‘on the ground’ in Syria, we proceed from the assumption that it is necessary to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity in Syria, the way it is envisaged by UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and other UN documents," the minister said. "Therefore, any actions ‘on the ground’, and there are many participants there, including those who carry out military operations, should be coordinated with Damascus."

"That’s precisely what we are doing, along with Turkey and Iran, when we promote the Astana process," the Russian foreign minister said. "We coordinate all our initiatives and proposals with the position of the Syrian government."

"We proceed from the premise that everyone should act in a similar way, the more so when the issue at hand is occupying some areas in Syria, including the territories, which could raise questions in terms of the true intensions of those who carry out such seizures," Lavrov emphasized. "We call on the United States and all others who have their forces or their advisers ‘on the ground’ (in Syria) to ensure coordination in our work."

According to Lavrov, the de-escalation zones are a possible option for moving forward jointly. "I invite everyone to avoid unilateral actions, respect Syria’s sovereignty and join our common effort, which has been agreed with the Syrian government," Lavrov added.

Cooperation potential of BRICS countries

The potential for cooperation by BRICS member-countries to boost the efficiency in the fight against terrorism is quite significant, Lavrov stressed.

"There is a working group on countering terrorism in the (BRICS) association," Lavrov noted. "It held two meetings, and its potential is quite significant."

According to Lavrov, that should be interagency work. "We have a general opinion that it should involve the foreign ministries and law enforcement agencies, which ensure the fight against terrorism, the prevention of terrorist attacks, the exchange of relevant information," he explained. "It is clear that a group of five countries cannot resolve the problem of global terrorism. That’s why all of us proceed from the need for a much broader effort."

In this regard, Russia’s top diplomat recalled the initiative by Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish a universal anti-terrorist front. "This initiative continues to be relevant," Lavrov emphasized. "I hope that the latest decision by the UN Security Council on the basis of the proposal by Secretary General Antonio Guterres to set up the office of the special coordinator of all UN programs on combating terrorism will help make progress in this direction. Russia will be actively involved in this work."

Next Astana conference on settling Syria’s conflict

The next meeting in Astana on resolving the Syrian crisis will take place on July 10, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will take part in it, Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, all BRICS member-countries are interested in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. "We heard our colleagues and friends today speaking highly of the efforts made by Russia along with Turkey and Iran as part of the ‘Astana process,’ and we are grateful for that," he said.

"The next meeting in Astana will be held on July 10," the minister said. "The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy de Mistura will take part in it." "The parties agreed to finalize at that meeting the coordination of specific parameters and modalities to ensure the regime that should exist in the de-escalation zones along their perimeters," Lavrov noted.

Russia’s top diplomat recalled that the memorandum adopted at the May 4 meeting in Astana said that the countries acting as guarantors (Russia, Turkey, Iran) would welcome third countries’ intention to join this process. "When specific parameters are clear, we will be ready to consider proposals from other countries, which will be interested in contributing to the implementation of that initiative," Lavrov said.