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Process of establishing Syrian Constitutional Committee no longer obstructed — Lavrov

Moscow and Washington are gradually forging a common understanding on how to assist Syrians in settling the crisis in their country, Lavrov said

UN, September 27. /TASS/. Attempts to hinder the process of political settlement in Syria, including the creation and work of the constitutional committee, have stopped, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly.

"My main message to everyone is that I’m pleased that the resistance to this process has stopped. The resistance was aimed at undermining any kind of Syrian settlement, at provoking confrontation, tensions, scandals in this process so that they could later point a finger at you know who and justify yet another use of force. I’m very satisfied that common sense prevailed, including in our Western partners, who are members of the so-called anti-terrorism coalition," he said during a news conference devoted to results of his work at the General Assembly.

Lavrov said he would not comment on the fact of the committee’s creation, because Russia actively promoted it "unlike other participants of this process, who impeded its creation in every possible way."

"If not for their efforts, the committee would have been established last December. We know who tried to block this work, but we decided not to take offense, not to adopt some attitudes, we simply continued to assist the Syrian government and the opposition in finding coordinated approaches, and, at last, we succeeded," the minister added.

The Russian foreign minister thanked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen for "accompanying the process in a tactful and diplomatic manner."

Moscow and Washington are gradually forging a common understanding on how to assist Syrians in settling the crisis in their country, Lavrov said.

"We discussed this [Syrian Constitutional Committee] with [US Secretary of State] Michael Pompeo. It seems to me that we have been gradually shaping a better understanding of how to help Syrians reach an agreement about the future of their homeland, so that all external players respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic," the minister said.

According to him, Russia witnesses attempts to hold elections in Syria simultaneously with the start of the constitutional committee’s work, which contradicts the logic of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

"As far as UN SC Resolution 2254 is concerned, it has a lot more to it than just free elections. Indeed, it mentions the need to hold free elections under the UN supervision, in which all Syrians could take part. But it also says lots of other things, including the need to prepare a constitutional reform, which should precede the elections. We are aware of plans to start demanding elections simultaneously with work on the new constitution and regardless of its result," he said during a news conference devoted to results of his work at the General Assembly.

According to the minister, such moves would be "yet another provocation."

"I assure you that ideas of this kind would only impede progress that we have just managed to achieve, and will block further agreements between Syrians. Everything should be done gradually, step-by-step. But when some people want everything immediately, and, ‘if not then we will bomb you’ - this does not reflect interests of any country in the region, including all of Syria’s neighbors," Lavrov added.

Russia’s top diplomat also said that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 envisages uncompromising struggle against terrorism "which must not be forgotten and left aside while discussing ways to implement the resolution."

Lavrov also said that recent discussions on the humanitarian situation and political settlement in Syria at the United Nations Security Council looked like an attempt taken by certain countries to spare terrorists and even establish contacts with them on the ground.

"’Hidden agendas’ in the sphere of counterterrorism efforts are still in place: despite the Security Council’s biding resolutions on listing terrorist organizations, it has become a ‘rule’ for some countries to spare terrorists and even establish cooperation with them on the ground, as is happening, for instance, in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria," he said. "The United States is already openly saying that Hayat al-Sham (one of the names of Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia - TASS) is a quite "moderate structure’ and it can be dealt with. As the recent discussions on the situation in Syria’s Idlib demonstrated they want to impose this unacceptable logic on the United Nations Security Council members."

On September 19, Russia and China voted against a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on ceasefire and improvement of the situation in Idlib that was initiated by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait.

The resolution called on the parties to the conflict to stop hostilities. It also called for punishment of those responsible for violation of humanitarian law in Idlib. Western countries have repeatedly accused Russia’s and Syria’s air forces of deliberate bombings of humanitarian targets in Idlib. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya denied these accusations and demonstrated satellite photos of intact facilities that had allegedly been attacked.