Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his optimism that the next round of the Astana meeting to be held on September 14-15 will see new agreements on the establishment of a fourth de-escalation zone in Idleb.
The Russian top diplomat said during a press conference with the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Jubeir in Riyadh on Sunday “We agree on the fact that the establishment of de-escalation zones in the country is an important step forward, which helps cement the ceasefire regime, find more efficient solutions to the humanitarian problems of the civilians, and creates conditions for taking the political process forward on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” he told reporters. Lavrov declared that the safe zones are temporary, adding that no country that has agreed to create the zones “has intentions to maintain them forever, thus creating a kind of enclaves on the Syrian territory.” A Syrian-Syrian dialogue launched through national reconciliation committees in the de-escalation zones is a very important factor to the efforts which are being made to ensure direct dialogue at the table of talks under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva, Lavrov said pointing out that his country actively supports the efforts aimed at unifying the delegations of the Syrian opposition to start a dialogue with the Syrian government during the next Geneva talks and also supports Riyadh’s role in this regard, stressing at the same time that only the Syrians decide the future of their state. “When the opposition is unified, and I think it will be, we should motivate all those who will join one delegation to develop a unified position and platform aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement to be decided by the Syrians,” Lavrov said, pointing out that the Security Council’s resolution no. 2254 does not provide any preconditions for commencement of the dialogue and does not include any ultimatums or unilateral demands.

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