Lavrov: Efforts to strengthen and expand cessation of hostilities agreement underway

Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the main point in the political settlement for the crisis in Syria is guaranteeing that the Syrians will decide their future on their own.

In a joint press conference with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura following their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Lavrov said that the talks were positive and that Russia and the United States agree that the standards of the political settlement must comply with the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) decision as per Security Council resolution no. 2254.

He asserted that foreign players must refrain from imposing set recipes and instead prepare suitable conditions for inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue.

Lavrov said that the positions of some opposition groups, including the “Riyadh opposition,” are unacceptable, non-constructive, and undermine the settlement of the crisis, calling for pressuring these groups to comply with UN resolutions.

He stressed that there are those who want to undermine the cessation of hostilities agreement via provocative actions, asserting that Russia is working with the US to strengthen and expand the agreement, and in this context a joint Russian-American center will be established in Geneva to quickly stop operations that may undermine the agreement.

Lavrov affirmed that Russia, the UN, and the US want to extend the cessation of hostilities agreement and make it permanent without restriction, voicing hope that the agreement will be put into effect in Aleppo during the next few hours, in addition to reaching decisions on where the agreement is applied and where Security Council resolution no. 2254 in areas controlled by ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups affiliated to them.

The Minister added that Russia discussed with the Americans the issue of the so-called “moderate opposition” and stressed that those must sever all ties with terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Nusra, and that Russia’s partners guaranteed that those groups will leave areas controlled by terrorist organizations.

He also stressed the need to close Syrian-Turkish borders to stop the channels used to supply terrorists in Syria, noting that certain sides’ insistence to form “safe zones” will have a negative impact on the situation.

Lavrov said that holding a meeting of the ISSG isn’t unlikely in the near future, calling on the United States to use its influence on other members of the ISSG to prevent them from making ultimatums that seek to undermine intra-Syrian dialogue and justify military scenarios.

During the meeting, Lavrov voiced appreciation for the efforts exerted by de Mistura, adding that extensive work is being carried out in parallel with these efforts by Russian and American military figures, while de Mistura hoped that his talks with Lavrov will help lead to a more stable cessation and hostilities, as he had called on Russia and the US a few days ago to do their best to put the cessation of hostilities back on track a few days ago.

Hazem Sabbagh

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