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Analyst says Russia, US keep door open as search for way out of Syrian crisis

An expert says everybody understands that the Syrian problem does not have a military solution

MOSCOW, October 14. /TASS/. A meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States and a number of Middle East countries, due in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday, means that the partakers do not give up the joint search for a way out of the Syrian impasse. The meeting may bring about certain amendments to the agreements with Moscow on a settlement in Syria, which Washington dismissed earlier, polled experts have told TASS.

"The outlook for a settlement in Syria with a special emphasis on the need for resuming the ceasefire regime on the basis of the agreements that Russia and the United States achieved in Geneva on September 9 will be central to the agenda of the Lausanne negotiations," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier. For this, she said, the moderate opposition and Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) must be separated from each other. Zakharova remarked that in the first place the point at issue was normalization of the humanitarian situation and the easing of combat operations in Aleppo and in Syria in general.

Doors remain open

The president of the Institute of Religion and Politics, Aleksandr Ignatenko, believes that the forthcoming meeting in Lausanne is a good sign. It is expected to adjust the September agreements with Russia on a settlement in Syria Washington has suspended for now.

"The expected presence of Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari foreign ministers in the negotiating process means that the talks will involve those Middle and Near East centers of influence that can cause tangible influence on the line-up of forces in the Syrian crisis. So far those forces have remained outside the framework of settlement negotiations," Ignatenko said.

"Resumption of Russian-US talks on Syria and the involvement of more partakers raises the hope an anti-war scenario may be translated into reality, although one push of the button will surely be not enough," Ignatenko said.

He speculates that the United Nations’ newly-appointed Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, may propose new ideas of how to restore peace to Syria. "Before his latest appointment he held the position of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees. He knows the situation in the Middle East well enough," Ignatenko said.

A member of the science council of Moscow’s Carnegie Center, Aleksey Malashenko, believes that further talks between Russia and the United States on the Syrian settlement will be inevitable.

"Everybody understands that the Syrian problem does not have a military solution. The politicians have let it all out, but at the same time they have preserved the chance of further contacts. They haven’t shut the door tight, thank God. Generally speaking, at all meetings in Switzerland the tone of negotiations is always far milder than in public statements," Malashenko said.

He believes it is most important the search for a way out of the Syrian impasse is continuing. "It’s far better to have it this way than to have nothing at all," Malashenko said.

Power scenario in question

Analysts have not left unnoticed the White House press office’s report President Barack Obama late Friday evening held a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the struggle against the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) and the situation in Syria in general. According to media reports, Obama was asked to consider several options, including those implying military intervention in Syria.

"I believe that Obama is trying to put pressures on the participants in the meeting in Lausanne. As the holder of a Nobel Peace Prize, he will not dare give consent to the use of force in Syria. If he does, that will be tantamount to political suicide," Ignatenko believes.

"During the time left before the presidential election in the United States (due late October) Obama and his allies will start a battle for the capital of the Islamic State in Iraq - Mosul - thus taking his presidency to an upbeat ending.

For the sake of having the work done

Pundits have pointed to the fact that the UN Security Council on the eve of the Lausanne meeting launched a discussion of a new draft resolution on the Syrian city of Aleppo. New Zealand’s draft envisages the militants’ withdrawal from the city in compliance with the initiative of the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

"A corresponding draft resolution of the UN Security Council proposed by Russia on the basis of de Mistura’s initiative, was blocked. New Zealand is a neutral country, so there is the hope its draft will approved. This may ease the disagreements between Russia and the United States over Aleppo," Ignatenko believes.

The deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s committee for international affairs, Andrey Klimov, said that Staffan de Mistura relies on common sense."

"It does not matter who eventually puts the signature to the UN Security Draft’s resolution. It is important to have the work done," he said.

At the same time Klimov pointed to the disagreements between Russia and the United States in their approach to settling the crisis in Syria.

"We have been working for the sake of a political settlement of the Syrian crisis there where it is possible, while the Americans do the same there where they see benefits for themselves," Klimov said.

"Constant dropping wears away the stone. Nobody should expect that negotiators in Lausanne will embrace each other and make peace at once. A balance of interest is being looked for and this process in itself is important," Klimov said.