SHAFAQNA – Russia and the United States concluded the last round of negotiations on the Syrian settlement in Geneva – after meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry to make progress in the settlement of the Syrian crisis, but a number of technical problems still to be resolved by experts.
“The work was fairly intense and productive. Today I can say that we have achieved clarity about the tasks required to move forward, we finished the last round of technical discussions which were aimed at the fact that the agreement on a cease-fire has to become a reality..”, said Kerry, opening the press conference.
The talks were held on Friday, and the US diplomat described them as “fruitful and constructive”.
For his part, Lavrov stressed that Moscow and Washington managed to find “more and more common ground” on Syria. He noted that Russia and the US was able to make some important steps forward to resolve the Syrian crisis.
The meeting of Lavrov and Kerry was held at the Hotel President Wilson on the shore of Lake Geneva and lasted 12 hours. For some time, they were joined by the special representative of the UN on Syria, Secretary General Staffan de Mistura.
“I know that many had gambled that today we would beat the record for the duration of our negotiations, but no, the Moscow record remained intact. We were still an hour behind the time spent until now, but I believe that, as John (Kerry) does, we have just made some very important steps forward, ” said the Russian minister.
Thus, during the lengthy negotiations the diplomats failed to agree on the specific areas in which work will be done with the Syrian government and the opposition.
“Most Syrians even today do not know that there was an agreement on a cease-fire, for the most part it has remained on paper. It is necessary to revise the agreement in order to enable it to achieve the goal of reducing violence..”, Kerry said.
According to him, the revision of the agreement should open a “window of opportunities”, which will have them return to the negotiating table in Geneva and engage in dialogue on a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
“We still have some unsolved problems between our military experts, over the next days they will meet here in Geneva to complete the discussion of the latest technological details and go forward, to take the necessary decisions to overcome the deep mistrust that exists on all sides.” – said Secretary of State Kerry.
He stressed that “it is necessary to see a clear carrying-out of the ceasefire regime by the Syrian authorities, it is necessary to see the peaceful and sustainable resumption of humanitarian assistance to all the hard to reach areas, in accordance with procedures and plans of the United Nations.”
“If we can achieve this, and will be able to implement a long-term agreement on a cease-fire, we will be able to carry out a radical change in the trajectory of the conflict. In the words said from the beginning of the conflict, the conflict will not end without a political solution. Therefore, as soon as we will solve the remaining highly technical issues, there will be enough goodwill for the development of productive negotiations, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, Staffan de Mistura will help us to return to the negotiating table and reach an agreement on the political transition, “, Kerry said.
He was supported by Lavrov, expressing the hope that “in the very near future we will be able to present to the results of our joint efforts of the international community.”
“But any decision on a cease-fire will be one that’s verified”, Kerry assured.
“We will not be too hasty with making an agreement as one like this will not fully meet the needs of the Syrian people and the international community’s ability to deal with these problems in a way that can show real results. That’s what we strive for.”, Kerry said.
Another necessary measure to address by the Russian Foreign Ministry is the issue of the Syrian leadership, and in turn, called for the convening of direct talks between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the opposition.
“We fully support this attitude of (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Staffan Syria) de Mistura, and we believe that this problem (of early negotiations – ed.) is overripe and should soon announce the convening of direct round of talks between the Government and the whole spectrum of the opposition. This I want to emphasize, ensuring an inclusive character of the negotiations “, Lavrov said.
The ceasefire in Syria came into force on the 27th of February. The truce does not cover the organization “Islamic State”, “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” (which has changed its name to “Dzhebhat Fatah al-Sham”) and other parties recognized by the UN Security Council terrorism.
One of the problems to be solved in the way of resolving the situation in Syria, Lavrov called on the establishment in the country of coordination between the Russian Federation and hubs of the US-led coalition.
“We are not talking about either party ceasing air operations. We are talking about making air sorties, which operate in the Syrian sky, effective in the fight against ISIS and “Dzhebhat al-Nusra”. First of all, Moscow has arrived at specific understandings, these understandings will be implemented after the technical details are addressed, as long as we remain committed that these should be agreed to, we can begin to act, and other details we cannot make yet public, “said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
He expressed the hope that the forthcoming technical consultation of experts will help to start to solve the issues at hand.
At the same time, the Minister noted that in Russia on Friday for the first time received from the US a list of groups that have joined the truce in Syria through the American coalition.
Moscow, in turn, shared information with Washington about who is part of the terrorist group “Dzhebhat al-Nusra “.
“Today, we introduced our American partners with information about how we see the composition of” Dzhebhat al-Nusra “, which smaller groups are included in this structure, and I am sure that our colleagues will look at this information, and it may be useful to them , ” Lavrov said.
The foreign minister also noted that the actions of “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” require special attention, in-depth analysis and fast response.
Speaking of “Dzhebhat al-Nusra”, Lavrov also said that the issue of delineating the opposition from terrorists needs to be done quickly, though this problem seems difficult.
“The delineation of the opposition forces apart from terrorists … We are aware that this is a difficult task, because “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” mimics, changes its name, comes up with a new “umbrella” under which they collect the various groups not formally included in the “Dzhebhat al-Nusra “. it requires close attention, in-depth analysis, but it must be done quickly so we can try to help our American partners solve this problem.”, he said.
“And I am pleased to note that the understanding of this problem we have with our American partners is becoming clearer,” , Lavrov said.
What about the Kurds?
The Kurdish issue also did not go unnoticed by members of Syria negotiations.
As the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Kurds of Syria can not have their own section, it will cause a chain reaction throughout the region, and in that no one is interested.
“I am convinced that the Kurds should remain part of the Syrian state, part of the solution, not a factor that will be used to ensure that Syria cracks, because it will cause a chain reaction throughout the region, in which no one is interested.” the diplomat said.
In turn, Kerry said the United States in favor of a unified Syria, will work for inclusiveness of the political process.
“We are for a united Syria, we do not support the independence of the Kurds, an independent Kurdish initiative”, he said.
He said the United States understands the sensitivity of this issue for the Turkish side, while continuing to work together in the interests of inclusiveness of Syria in the search for a political settlement.
Not only Syria, but also Ukraine
On other topics, which the diplomats discussed during the many hours of consultation, much less was spoken of at the press conference
It is known that at the negotiating table the issue of the Ukrainian crisis was raised, and bilateral US-Russia relations.
According to Lavrov, Moscow believes that the channel of communication with the United States can help the “Normandy” format, and that in Russia there is an appreciation of the interest of the American authorities in the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
“We appreciate the United States administration has an interest in helping to break the deadlock in the process of implementation of the Minsk agreements. We have a two-way channel (between Russia and the US – ed.)., which is quite regularly activated, we believe that this channel can really help the efforts that are being made in the Normandy format “, stressed Lavrov.
As for bilateral relations, according to the head of the Foreign Ministry, “the fundamental interests of the Russian Federation and the United States lies in the fact that we have normal relations between the two countries”, and today’s meeting has helped to move in this direction.