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Results of trilateral talks of Russian, Syrian and Iranian top diplomats

Sergey Lavrov, Walid Muallem and Mohammad Javad Zarif have discussed joint efforts to facilitate Syrian negotiation process
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 28. /TASS/. Russian, Syrian and Iranian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov, Walid Muallem and Mohammad Javad Zarifv held a trilateral meeting on the Syrian developments on October 28.

Syria's cooperation with UN

According to Sergey Lavrov, Russia and Iran welcomed Syria’s readiness to boost cooperation with the UN.

"Russia and Iran welcome the Syrian government’s readiness to enhance cooperation with the UN in solving humanitarian issues, that was confirmed today," the Russian minister said. "We believe that the UN representatives should act impartially, refrain from responding to provocations, and do everything possible to confront terrorists in Syria.

Syrian government has no contacts with US-led coalition

The Syrian foreign minister said the government does not maintain any contacts with the US-led anti-terrorist coalition and questions its effectiveness.

"There are no contacts between the Syrian government and the coalition led by the US," he said, adding that the coalition’s operation that has lasted more than two years yielded no results.

 Damascus is certain that Washington is not eager to meet its commitments in regard to Syria, he added. 

"The U.S. admits the roles of Russia and Iran (in resolution of the Syria crisis) but cannot cooperate with us," Muallem said. "We have no trust in the United States. We are certain it will not meet its commitments."

"We have suffered from the US-led coalition’s operation as it does not fight against terrorists but destroys our infrastructure and recently it has destroyed lots of crucial bridges across the Euphrates River," the Syrian foreign minister emphasized. "They want ISIS (the Islamic State terrorist organization banned in Russia) to leave Mosul for Raqqa. I am pleased to hear from Mr. Lavrov that we will join our efforts to prevent it."

"There are no contacts between the Syrian government and the coalition led by the US," he said, adding that the coalition’s operation that has lasted more than two years yielded no results.

"Those who have been plotting against Syria for five years, under the US guidance, will go ahead with their campaign," Muallem said. "Nonetheless, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday (at the Valdai International Discussion Forum in Sochi), our patience had limits. Their campaign will not affect us but we will not reduce efforts to fight terrorists.

Damascus has no trust in the United States in regard with its commitments to resolve the Syria crisis.

"The U.S. recognizes the roles of Russia and Iran (in resolution of the Syria crisis) but cannot cooperate with them," he said. "The Russian-American deal was undermined, and then a strike on Deir ez-Zor followed."

"The US opposes a peaceful solution, it supports the regional nations that pursue the Wahhabi policy and are determined to extend this policy across the entire region. It organizes mendacious media campaigns aimed against Russia and Syria," he said in conclusion.

Responsibility for position of Syrians rests upon terrorists, West, its sanctions

The Russian top diplomat stressed the responsibility for the current position of Syrians rests upon not only on terrorists, but also on the West and its sanctions.

"We have been able to see for ourselves that it is a very useful format and that it allows for a meaningful and frank exchange of opinion on how to achieve compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions for settling the Syrian crisis," Lavrov said. "We put the emphasis on the need for going ahead with and stepping up irreconcilable struggle against terrorism and simultaneously address the questions of improving the humanitarian situation, returning to the regime of the cessation of hostilities and urgently restarting intra-Syrian negotiations in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions without any double standards."

"At negotiations with Iran we reaffirmed the fundamental support for the unity and territorial integrity of Syria. We agreed to work together to address the task of eliminating terrorists and restoring peace and civil infrastructures," Lavrov said. He recalled that at a meeting of the international discussion club Valdai Russian President Vladimir Putin "suggested giving thought without delay to some equivalent of a ‘Marshall Plan’ for reconstruction in Syria."

"We stated that the responsibility for the worsening of the socio-economic position rests upon not only on terrorists, but also on the countries that apply unlawful unilateral economic sanctions against Syria, which hit ordinary people in that country first and foremost," he said.

"We expressed the unanimity all countries must strictly follow the fundamental principles of international law, including non-intervention in the internal affairs, the non-use of the threat of force and the settlement of the arising disagreements by political means," Lavrov said. "We are unanimous that attempts to dictate solutions from outside and to use double standards are unacceptable and that all issues must be resolved on the basis of mutual respect and equality through negotiations."

"We supported the Syrian leadership in its determination to resume the political process on the basis of resolutions by the International Syria Support Group," Lavrov said. "We welcomed Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem’s promise a Syrian government delegation would be prepared to go to Geneva shortly for UN sponsored talks with the representatives of all opposition groups, just as UN Security Council resolutions require."

The minister stressed Moscow, unlike its Western counterparts, is set to carry the fight against terrorists through to the end.

"Terrorists must be smashed," Lavrov said. "When our Western partners are battling terrorism with words, we are full of determination to carry the matter through to the end with deeds."

Russian-US agreements on Syria had begun with a statement that the top priority was to separate moderate opposition and terrorists, Lavrov said.

"Nonetheless, there was no progress, there is no progress and, to tell the truth, I do not expect any further progress, at least in the immediate future," Lavrov said. "I am going to remind that this separation was linked to a seven-day ‘silence regime’ during which Americans promised to show us in their maps where there were terrorists and where not."

"As of today, neither Russia nor Syria has been using their Aerospace and Air Forces around Aleppo for ten days," the Russian foreign minister said. "Over this span of time the separation could have been done at least in eastern Aleppo."

Appeals to cease the fire just reflected a desire to buy time and provide a respite for terrorists, he added.

Russia urges UN SC to prohibit foreign support for terrorists

Lavrov said prevention of foreign support for terrorists is a requirement of the UN Security Council and Russia will insist on compliance with that demand.

"Prevention of any support for terrorists is not somebody’s personal wish. It is a requirement of the UN Security Council. It is stated in its resolutions," Lavrov said. "Any support, including support from abroad, is prohibited by the UN Security Council and we will insist on compliance with these UN SC requirements. We will be doing so in our contacts with the countries of the US-led coalition. We have the corresponding channels for the dialog."

"In practical terms the decisions are to be made by the military," he said. "These decisions must not always be made public. Our three countries and also Iraq at a certain point created a joint center in Baghdad to coordinate practical approaches to struggle against terrorists. I believe that this center has been very useful and may be of still greater use than before, bearing in mind that there is a real threat terrorists may be forced out of Mosul and redirected towards Syrian territory."

Russia urges UN not to believe hysterical lies about Aleppo, Idlib, Lavrov added. 

Situation in Aleppo

Sergey Lavrov said after the talks with his counterparts that terrorists have now actually closed exit for Aleppo residents in Syria and no separation from the opposition has occurred.

"The situation in Aleppo is now seriously escalating," the Russian foreign minister said.

"We could not turn a blind eye, to put it mildly, to the unprofessional work of the UN humanitarian staff," Lavrov said. "Their inaction allowed the so-called local council in eastern Aleppo to disrupt medical evacuation, which they had been insisting on. We are frustrated that the statements made for the public by representatives of the UN humanitarian bodies are reminiscent of attempts to veil disgraceful political schemes."

"We urge UN officials to resist the mounting hysteria filled with fabrications about the developments in Aleppo, and primarily in the humanitarian sphere," he concluded.

"The ceasefire has been disrupted through the fault of the armed opposition. The United States and its allies in the region have failed or have shown no desire to ensure the implementation of the ceasefire regime by their subjects. This has endangered thousands of civilians in eastern Aleppo whom terrorists are using as a human shield," he added.

"At the same time, proceeding from humanitarian considerations, Russia and Syria have suspended combat operations against terrorists," Lavrov said.

"No flights of the Russian Aerospace Force and the Syrian Air Fore have been performed for already 10 days. The aircraft of our countries do not approach the frontline around Aleppo closer than 10 km," the Russian foreign minister said.

"We counted very seriously that the humanitarian pause and the absence of aircraft’s operations would be used by our American partners to finally convince the so-called moderate opposition to dissociate itself from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the former Nusra [Jabhat al-Nusra outlawed in Russia], which is actually controlling eastern Aleppo and commanding all other armed opposition groupings located there," the Russian foreign minister said.

"Very regrettably, such separation has failed again. Moreover, it is obvious that the terrorists have closed the exit from the city [Aleppo] through the humanitarian corridors. Instead of letting civilians leave, these corridors have turned out to be under militants’ aimed fire," Lavrov said.

Russia’s patience has limits 

The Russian top diplomat said Moscow's patience concerning the separation of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ from the terrorists in Aleppo has limits.

"As for President Putin’s statement made yesterday about our patience having its limits, that also applies to eliminating the terrorists in Aleppo, as well," Lavrov noted.

In this connection the Russia’s top diplomat pointed out that early this year at a meeting of the International Syria Support Group, US Secretary of State John Kerry in front of representatives from more than 20 countries called on the moderate opposition groups to leave the areas controlled by the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both terrorist groups, outlawed in Russia).

According to Lavrov, Kerry said then that if the moderate opposition did not want to be linked to terrorists then its armed groups should leave the territories under the control of IS and Jabhat an-Nusra and join the ceasefire. The US Secretary of State concluded his speech by saying that if some opposition groups did not disengage themselves from the terrorists then they would become legitimate targets like IS and Jabhat al-Nusra," Lavrov explained.

"Taking into account that there is still no sign of the moderate opposition in Aleppo being separated from Jabhat al-Nusra, then the time has come for the position expressed by Kerry to be turned into reality," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

Idlib school attack

Lavrov stressed Moscow is calling for a thorough investigation of the attack on a school in the Syrian province of Idlib and other incidents.

"The Idlib school attack has been very much hyped lately," the Russian minister said. "The allegations particularly lay the blame on Russia and Syria. We are being accused of delivering the airstrikes that hit the school. In response to these assertions, Russia’s Defense Ministry has shared some facts that disprove the accusations and show that this media hype has been biased."

"I would also like to mention that on the same day a mine hit a school in western Aleppo and at the same time, militants from eastern Aleppo shelled a humanitarian corridor set up near that school," the minister continued. "As a result, 12 civilians were killed and 20 wounded. It is impossible to distort this information. Our journalists have visited this area and recorded this absolutely inhuman crime that the insurgents active in eastern Aleppo had committed."

All these incidents need to be thoroughly investigated, the Russian top diplomat stressed.

At the same time, Lavrov noted that "Russia and Iran welcome the Syrian government’s readiness to enhance cooperation with the UN in tackling humanitarian issues, that was confirmed today". "We believe that the UN representatives should act impartially, and refrain from responding to provocations," the Russian minister emphasized.

Russia-Syria intergovernmental commission

Lavrov said a meeting of the Russian-Syrian intergovernmental commission will be held in November, and the Russian-Iranian one - in December.

"During our bilateral meetings, we reiterated our mutual interest in developing cooperation in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres and in security area," the minister said. "We appreciate regular contacts between our countries’ leaders. We discuss progress in the implementation of the agreements reached by President (Vladimir) Putin and President (Bashar) al-Assad both during the Syrian leader’s visit to Russia and during their recent telephone conversation. Also, we discussed with (Mohammad) Javad Zarif the implementation of the decisions that were agreed during the latest meeting between Presidents Putin and (Hassan) Rouhani in Baku on August 8."

"Some important bilateral activities are planned," Lavrov said. "A meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Syria will take place at an early date, in November, while a meeting of the Russian-Iranian commission on trade and economic cooperation and the Russian-Iranian commission on science and technology cooperation will be held in December," the minister said.

Terrorists’ exodus from Mosul to Syria 

The Russian top diplomat stressed terrorists’ exodus from Mosul to Syria cannot be allowed, this issue will be discussed with the US.

"We also exchanged views on the situation in neighboring Iraq where the international anti-IS coalition has launched an operation to liberate Mosul," he noted. "We are interested in taking measures, in collaboration with our Iraqi colleagues, to prevent terrorists' exodus from Mosul with their weapons and heavy vehicles, which will, of course, aggravate the situation in Syria."

"We believe it is important not to allow this, we will discuss the issue with both the Americans and other members of their coalition," Russia’s top diplomat said. "We cannot let terrorists leave (Mosul) so they could redirect their activities towards Syria.".

Lavrov added that joint center in Baghdad could be be more relevant than before, including in light of situation in Mosul.