ZURICH, 20 January. The December UN security Council resolution on the Syrian settlement remains the basis for moving forward. This was stated by Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov after talks with U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry.
“We, more importantly, made a clear conclusion: the UN security Council resolution 2254 remains the main basis for us to move forward, – said Lavrov. In accordance with this resolution, we discussed practical steps to ensure the conditions for the cease-fire, which will not apply to the terrorist organization “Islamic state” and “dzhebhat EN – Nusra” (banned in Russia).
“They can’t fall under the armistice agreement, they are still our enemies, – said the Minister. And all will continue to fight them until their total destruction”.
About the transfer of Syrian peace talks
Lavrov said that Russia and the USA have no intentions to migrate the inter-Syrian negotiations in January.
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“Until the end of January there are still many days. We do not have any reflection in order to postpone the negotiations from January to February, he said. This is the position of both Russia and the United States.”
“I am confident that in the coming days – in January – such negotiations should begin,” added the Minister.
Russia, the U.S. and other members of the International support group Syria will not directly participate in inter-Syrian negotiations on a political settlement, Lavrov said
“Of course, Russia, the United States and other members of the International support group Syria will not participate in the negotiations between the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition, said the Minister. – We will these negotiations be accompanied in forms that are most useful to the Syrians reached understandings and how they work together to solve the problems of the transition period, and what will they have a new Constitution, how to prepare for early elections, and more”.
The Russian Minister expressed hope that the negotiation process will begin in January of this year.
“Let me emphasise that the process will begin, because, of course, it will take considerable time, – said Lavrov. – You need to resolve a number of challenges that were formulated in the resolutions of the UN Security Council and decisions of the International support group of Syria, which met in Vienna and new York”.
Of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq
The United States and Russia are committed to the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq, Lavrov said.
“Our General conclusions regarding the various conflicts in the middle East and North Africa is that the United States and Russia strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States in the region, – said the head of the Russian foreign Ministry. – First of all, this concerns Syria and Iraq, because in these two countries, sometimes, you can hear the argument that it would create in their place a few States”.
Lavrov also said that UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura will be able to form a broadly representative delegation of the opposition for Syrian peace talks.
Answering the question about whether we can say that between Moscow and Washington yet there is no agreement on participation in inter-Syrian negotiations of groups of “Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam”, Lavrov said: “we Can say that no such agreement because it was not expected”.
“The UN security Council resolution (2254) requests Staffan de Mistura, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General to send invitations to the Syrian parties. Preparing the guest list, it should be guided, inter alia, the results of the meetings that the opposition circles were conducted in Moscow, Riyadh, Cairo, and other initiatives, as recorded in this resolution”, – noted the Minister.
“Their wishes about how we would see the composition of negotiators from the opposition, those who will be invited for negotiations with the government, we transferred to de Mistura, in his time, the Americans did the same thing. Other members of the International support group Syria conveyed their wishes. De Mistura now all it processes, evaluates. I am sure that it will form a delegation that will be required of him in this resolution, to represent the wide spectrum of Syrian society”, – said the Minister.
Lavrov stressed that the practical implementation of joint actions with the U.S. in fighting terrorists in Syria remains the main objective, efficient arrangement. “The main thing we said was coordinating anti-terrorist actions, he said. – The American side was the number of proposals. These proposals go in the right direction, but we believe that the practical implementation of joint actions, the division of labor is still our task. Here we can find much more effective agreement than a Memorandum, which is simply devoted to the procedures to avoid incidents. Anti-terrorist area remains one of the Central”.
On the coordination of humanitarian assistance of Syria
Russia is ready to coordinate humanitarian aid to Syria since the US-led coalition said Lavrov.
“Reaffirmed the need to address the humanitarian situation in Syria, the Minister said. – Talked about how VKS RF, planning their operations, take into account the programs implemented in Syria, humanitarian agencies, UN, ICRC. Said that we are ready to coordinate more closely their activities with us and coalition in this area”.
The position of foreign Minister for “Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam”
Moscow will not refuse the position on the exclusion of “Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam” from the talks on Syria, Lavrov said.
“This does not mean that we have abandoned their position on the terrorist nature of these organizations (“Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam”). “Jaish al-Islam” fired at residential quarters and the Embassy of Russia, – said the head of the Russian foreign Ministry. – “Ahrar al-sham” – an offshoot of al-Qaida. We provided the data, confirming the validity of our position”.
Lavrov stressed that Moscow has provided evidence of the terrorist nature of the groups of “Ahrar al-sham and Jaish al-Islam”.
He stressed that Russia has not abandoned its position regarding terrorist entity “Jaish al – Islam and Ahrar al-sham”. “The first one known for repeatedly shelled residential areas of Damascus and the Russian Embassy. “Ahrar al-sham” is a direct offspring of “al-Qaeda”, – he said.
The head of the Russian foreign Ministry reported that the Russian side “has provided the materials, which provide the evidence of the justice of our position”. “In the framework of the International support group in Syria, the process of identifying terrorist organizations is continuing, and we expect that these arguments will be taken into consideration by our colleagues,” said Lavrov.
About the Ukrainian issue
Lavrov also said Kerry and Nuland confirmed that the United States in the Ukrainian direction will support the contact group and the Normandy format.
“Spoke on Ukraine, here confirmed the Central role of the contact group and working groups, – said the Russian Minister. – Our interlocutors, John Kerry, he was accompanied by among others, Victoria Nuland, who is responsible for the European direction of U.S. foreign policy in the state Department, our American partners have confirmed that their work on the Ukrainian direction will focus on helping to reach agreement in the Contact group, the “channel format”, and not substitute these proved to be helpful mechanisms”.
The Minister said that he and Kerry exchanged views on the outcome of the meeting, which was held recently in the Kaliningrad region, the U.S. and Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov. “Talked about the fact that such contacts are in high demand”, – said Lavrov. He recalled that this channel was created by an agreement between the presidents of Russia and USA Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.
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“The Central task is the implementation of the Minsk agreements in their entirety and in the sequence that defines the Minsk agreement of 12 February 2015, said the Minister. – Americans agree. We see the key task at this stage is to achieve the elimination of continuing violations of the ceasefire, to ensure the full implementation of the agreements of the parties about the withdrawal of weapons and the gradual divorce of forces that direct contact between the armed forces and representatives of the militia of Donbass as much as possible. Agreed that it is necessary to solve humanitarian issues, to remove the economic blockade. All this is provided in the package of measures approved in Minsk on February 12 last year.”
“The Central task, the long-term prospect will depend on the final settlement, is a political process. Our common understanding with our American colleagues is that the issue of holding of local elections, on the basis agreed with the Donbass Ukrainian law, Amnesty of all participants of the events in the South – East of Ukraine, the issues of permanent special status of Donbass, those territories which are now under control of proclaimed DNR and LC, and issues the relevant amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine represent a package that consists of interconnected elements that should be considered in the complex”, – said Lavrov.
“I think we did a very useful findings, and hope that in the upcoming contact and in a Contact group, and in the framework of the “channel four” we will support these understanding,” concluded the Minister.
The Minister said that the essence of the Minsk agreements is not subject to interpretation, they are necessary and not to rewrite.
Asked to comment on the words of Vladislav Surkov on brainstorming at the meeting with Victoria Nuland, Lavrov commented ironically: “in General, when diplomats meet, they always include brains, it is the natural state of any negotiator”.
“The Minsk agreements are not subject to interpretation in essence, the Minister stressed. – There is written all the necessary actions that must be undertaken primarily by the government of Ukraine, but also, of course, the militia that through direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass should lead to the resolution of this whole situation in the complex”.
“So that the sequence and content of each step is already defined and in absolutely no uncertain terms. But tactically there are always a few options on how to implement the various reforms envisaged in the Minsk agreements, he said. A compromise must be sought, but on how the Minsk agreements be implemented, and not about how these agreements to be rewritten”.
According to Lavrov, American colleagues share this view.