Bogdanov: Cooperation with Syria is in full swing in all fields

Moscow, SANA – Russian President’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov expressed his wonder that the West seeks to form a coalition to combat terrorism in the region that excludes key countries like Syria and Iran overlooking that both are independent and sovereign countries and member states of the United Nations.

Bogdanov’s remarks came during talks he held on Friday with Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed in Moscow.

The talks focused on the latest developments in Syria and cooperation with Russia in the efforts of fighting extremism and eliminating terrorism.

Few days ago, US President Barack Obama announced a strategy in which he said an international coalition needs to be formed to combat the terrorist organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has recently seized parts of the neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria.

The coalition he suggested would rule out cooperation with the Syrian government despite the fact that the latter has been for almost four years fighting extremist and mercenary terrorists who flooded the country coming from all corners of the world and are backed by regional and international forces.

Awqaf Minister and Bogdanov-Moscow Presidential Political and Media Advisor Buthaina Shaaban said in a televised interview with al-Mayadeen TV, aired last Thursday, that Syria is ready to be part of any international coalition against terrorism as long as the aim is to “root it out,” pointing out that the talk recently has been only about the “repositioning and redirecting” of terrorism in the region.

In a relevant context, Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that any strikes inside Syria which the US could launch without prior consent from the Syrian government and UN authorization would be considered an act of aggression against Syria.

During his meeting with Bogdanov, who is also Deputy Foreign Minister, Awqaf Minister highlighted that the real problem with regard to fighting terrorism and extremism in the region is that it must not be combated by means of arms only, but also through countering the ideology of terrorism and extremism itself.

He cited Saudi Arabia as an example of a country that has been producing generations of extremists nonstop stemming from the Takfiri wahhabi mentality.

Al-Sayyed noted that Syria has been targeted over the past three and a half years because it embraces “a civilized Islamic ideology” that is not at odds with the other holy religions.

“We in Syria are the best example of civilized Islamic-Christian relations in the entire Arab region. We have always been like that and we still are despite of all the dangers of the crisis we are facing,” he said.

For his part, Syria’s Ambassador in Moscow Riyad Haddad lashed out at the US administration’s latest decision to support what it called “moderate” armed groups in Syria as part of the strategy on countering terrorism, which has ravaged Syria since 2012 and more recently Iraq.

Those same groups, Haddad stressed, are the ones that had been committing various atrocities of killing, slaughtering and mutilation before the emergence of ISIS.

He decried the US administration’s decision as one that seems to aim at supporting terrorism and not combating it.

Bogdanov stressed that cooperation between his country and Syria is in full swing in all fields, indicating that a session of the joint Syrian-Russian committee for cooperation in the various economic, trade, scientific and technical fields will be held in the coming period.

He noted that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Syrian Finance Minister Ismael Ismael will chair the committee’s upcoming meeting.

Haifa Said

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