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Lavrov: Russia, Tunisia satisfied that ceasefire in Syria holds

March 14, 13:51 UTC+3
At the same time, an uncompromising struggle is underway against the IS and Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, Russia's top diplomat notes
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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. The intra-Syrian talks in Geneva should include the whole range of opposition forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday following talks with his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui.

"Russia and Tunisia are unanimous that it is necessary to comply with resolutions 2254 and 2258 of the UN Security Council, which endorse the decisions of the International Syria Support Group developed by the co-chairs of this mechanism — Russia and the United States," the minister noted.

"The intra-Syrian dialogue is to begin in Geneva today," Lavrov said. "We follow the way the participants in this dialogue both from the government and the opposition are formed. It is clear that it should include the entire spectrum of Syrian political forces. Otherwise, it cannot claim to be a representative forum discussing the key issues of Syria’s future."

"Of course, we have mutual satisfaction over the fact that the cessation of hostilities continues to hold despite some violations," the minister said. "At the same time, an uncompromising struggle is underway against the so-called Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra [terrorist groups outlawed in Russia — TASS] and other terrorist groups, according to the list approved by the UN Security Council."

Moscow will support any agreement on Syria’s state system

Moscow is ready to support any agreement on Syria’s state system to be reached between the government and all the opposition groups, Russian Foreign Minister continued.

"We’ll support any agreement that will be reached between the Syrian government and the full range of opposition groups on Syria’s future state system," Lavrov said.

"We have never tried to decide anything for the Syrian people, such attempts have been made by our colleagues, but not by us," the minister said.

"Only the Syrian people will decide Syria’s destiny. This means that any form of government, whatever it is called - federalization, a unitary state, should be the subject of an agreement between all Syrians," Lavrov said.

The minister added that this position follows from the agreements of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) that have been approved by the UN Security Council.

Moscow urges opposition not to fan tensions at Geneva talks

Moscow calls on participants of talks on Syria in Geneva beginning on Monday not to whip up tensions by making radical statements.

"We urge everyone to avoid fanning tensions and confrontation in media space, and to sit down at the negotiating table honestly and search for an agreement as demanded by decisions of the UN Security Council which all participants of talks from the Syrian sides said they approved and pledged to implement," Lavrov said.

Lavrov reminded that the talks will be attended not only by the Riyadh-backed group, but also by the delegation of the Syrian government and other opposition blocs.

Russia’s top diplomat has called on all participants of talks on Syria to avoid ultimatums and attempts to determine the outcome of dialogue.

"Any radical approaches, any ultimatums and attempts to determine the outcome of the intra-Syrian dialogue do not help to create an atmosphere needed for reaching an accord," he said.

"This atmosphere is simply needed to meet the demands of the UN Security Council’s resolution that states that political settlement should be implemented taking into account interests of the whole spectrum of Syrian political forces and the final results of such a process should be based on mutual consent of the government and all the opposition members," Lavrov said.

Only the Syrian people can determine the fate of Syria, Lavrov stressed. "The statements that someone will be excluded from political process contradict this position of the UN Security Council," he said.

The second round of peace talks on Syria begins in Geneva on Monday. The discussions will start at a very symbolic moment - on the eve of the fifth anniversary since the beginning of anti-government clashes in Syria’s Deraa.

Military intervention in Libya possible only through UN Security Council’s mandate

Military intervention in Libya with the goal of fighting against terrorism may take place only based on a mandate of the UN Security Council, Sergey Lavrov went on to say.

"We know about the plans of military intervention in the situation in Libya that are being discussed openly and not very openly," Lavrov said. "Our common position is that this can be done only with the permission of the UN Security Council."

The possible mandate for operation against terrorists in Libya needs to be "absolutely unambiguous" not to allow any interpretations, he said.

Russia’s top diplomat praised Tunisia’s position "as Libya’s neighbor country that is affected by the crisis in Libya, including terrorism manifestations." Russia supports Tunisia’s role to mobilize neighbor countries to advance political process which like in Syria case should involve all political forces with no exception.

"Otherwise, it will be very difficult to ensure preservation of the Libyan state," Lavrov said.

Lavrov invited to visit Tunisia to prepare exchange of visits by Russian, Tunisian presidents

Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui on Monday invited his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to visit his country to prepare for an exchange of visits by the two countries’ heads of state.

"As for political dialogue between Russia and Tunisia, we are interested in its enlivening and expansion at all levels," he said.

"In this context, I have invited Minister Lavrov to visit our country to discuss topical issues for Tunisia and Russia and to prepare grounds for an exchange of visits by the heads of state, namely a visit by the Russian president to Tunisia and a visit of the Tunisian president to Russia," the Tunisian foreign minister said. "It is necessary to ensure proper agenda for such possible visits so that they could help bring our relations to a qualitatively new level."

Moscow grateful to Tunisia for supporting idea on creating broad anti-terrorist coalition

According to Lavrov, Russia is grateful to Tunisia for supporting Moscow’s idea on creating a broad anti-terrorist coalition.

"We are grateful to our Tunisian friends for supporting the initiative put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin on creating a broad anti-terrorist front," Lavrov said.

Russia, in turn, "supports the Tunisian leadership in the fight against terrorist threat," he added.

The Russian foreign minister noted that Moscow and Tunis have similar approaches to non-acceptance of terrorism and "joint efforts to counter this global evil."

Fight against terrorism must be conducted without double standards

The fight against terrorism should be conducted without double standards and meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted.

"We support Tunisia in its fight against the terrorist threat," he said. "Cooperation [in the fight] against terrorism should be conducted with an emphasis on international law, without double standards, without interference in countries’ internal affairs."

Lavrov noted that Russia was grateful to Tunisia for supporting the idea of forging a consolidated broad coalition to combat terrorism. "We are grateful to our Tunisian friends for supporting the initiative put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin to set up a broad anti-terror front," he said.

Russia’s top diplomat pointed to the two countries’ common stances concerning rejection of terrorism, "common efforts to confront this global evil."

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