Moscow Says Respects Iran’s Presence in Syria

Moscow Says Respects Iran’s Presence in Syria Moscow Says Respects Iran’s Presence in Syria

Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow respects Iran’s presence in Syria at the request of the legitimate government in Damascus.

“Iran is present in Syria at the invitation of its lawful authorities,” Ryabkov told TASS it on Thursday, adding, “but there is space for work in this issue.”

He recently took part in negotiations between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and United States National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“We treat with great respect Iran’s steps to provide its own security and actions, including in Syria at the invitation of this country’s lawful government. However, this does not mean that there are no prospects or space for further work in this sphere,” the Russian deputy foreign minister said without elaboration.

He added that the issue of Iran’s presence in Syria was discussed in the Russia-US talks in the broader context of the situation in the Middle East and in Syria.

“We’ve got many inconsistencies with the Americans in this area,” the senior diplomat said. “Approaches are directly opposite in some cases, but here as well, which is important, there are grounds for continuing dialogue regarding Syria.”

Ryabkov reiterated that Russia is working with Iran in the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana.

“In the near future, new contacts will take place, including on the [UN-sponsored peace talks of] Geneva platform, which we regard as an important component of greater work. Sochi and Astana cannot replace Geneva; these are independent venues, and all these tracks complement each other. We presume that Tehran has similar views on it.”

Iran has been in Syria on an advisory military capacity since the conflict erupted in the country in 2011. Russia joined the battle late in 2015. The two countries intervened in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government.

Washington, which deployed troops in Syria in 2014 despite repeated criticism by Damascus, has been critical of Iranian and Russian role in the country.

Russia has reiterated that it will be ready to discuss the withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria when the US starts pulling out its own forces.

Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited Iran, Russia and Turkey to talks on Syria’s Constitutional Committee, to be held in Geneva on Sept. 11-12, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday, Reuters reported.

The talks on forming a committee to draw up a new constitution for Syria are expected to be followed by parallel UN talks involving countries including the United States, but she had no date for those.  


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