Lavrov Calls on UN to Stop Delaying Syria Talks

Lavrov Calls on UN to Stop Delaying Syria Talks

The United Nations should stop delaying convening talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva, Switzerland, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
“We continue to believe that our friends in the United Nations should hasten and stop delaying the resumption of negotiations,” Lavrov said in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, Sputnik reported.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told reporters on Tuesday that he asked the Security Council to hold the intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva on February 20 instead of February 8. Lavrov said Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan where talks between the Syrian government and the armed opposition took place on January 23-24, would not replace the Geneva process.
“We are keeping the Astana venue to monitor the implementation of those agreements reached at the first meeting with the participation of the government and armed opposition groups,” he said at the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum. Lavrov noted that the nationwide ceasefire in effect in Syria since late December “is generally observed.”
The Russian foreign minister also said Moscow welcomes the emerging normalization in ties between Ankara and Baghdad following Turkey’s deployment of troops near Mosul late in 2015.
“We welcome the emerging normalization in Turkish-Iraqi relations,” Lavrov said at the opening of the Forum.
He also said Moscow is assisting the Iraqi military’s ongoing campaign against the self-styled Islamic State by providing it with arms.
“We are assisting in this struggle, supplying Iraq with Russian weapons and military equipment, strengthening the combat capability of the Iraqi armed forces,” he said.
“Of course, we believe it is important to bring the operation in Mosul to an end but, obviously, it is also necessary to take steps to ensure the protection of civilians.”

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