Russia follows US-Turkey safe-zone talks in Syria

Russia's foreign minister says Moscow welcomes agreements de-escalating the situation in Syria, respects its sovereignty

Elena Teslova   | 02.09.2019
Russia follows US-Turkey safe-zone talks in Syria


Moscow closely follows the talks between the U.S. and Turkey for providing security on the Turkish-Iraqi border, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

Russia "always supports" agreements that help to reduce the armed confrontation, alleviate the suffering of the civilians, create conditions for the solution of humanitarian issues and for the promotion of a political settlement, said Lavrov at a news conference in Moscow, after meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"President Erdogan, who was in Russia last week for talks with President Putin, informed in detail about the course of these negotiations, and the issues that are not yet amenable to solution," Lavrov said.

Moscow understands Turkey's concerns regarding securing its borders and the necessity to find a solution that will not turn the Kurdish issue into another serious regional problem, he said. But such a solution must respect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the rights of the Arab tribes, traditionally living around the Euphrates, Lavrov added.

His Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif said: "Any U.S. presence in the eastern Euphrates is illegitimate and destructive", and added that it only leads to strengthening the confrontation between the local nations.

"Therefore we see the U.S. presence around the Euphrates as a violation of the territorial integrity of Syria. It pursues goals that have no connection with Syria. We do not agree in principle with the U.S. presence on the eastern bank of the Euphrates," Zarif said, stressing that at the same time Tehran understands concerns of the Turkish friends over the necessity to defend their borders.

Both Lavrov and Zarif called the countries having influence in the Syrian settlement to use their influence to push the political process.

Zarif said he would discuss the establishment of the Syrian constitutional committee with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen in Tehran on Sept. 3.

Last Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Istanbul that Turkey will apply its own plan of action, if Turkish soldiers are not allowed to control safe-zone in Syria.

In three weeks, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Turkey will use the last possibility to find a compromise with the U.S. on building safe-zone along eastern Euphrates line, he said.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- to purge the region of terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

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