THEY ARE CLOSE TO A BREAKTHROUGH

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THEY ARE CLOSE TO A BREAKTHROUGH
THEY ARE CLOSE TO A BREAKTHROUGH

Ekaterina Zabrodina
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, August 29, 2016, p. 8
Russia and the US are as close to approval of the joint steps that will help achievement of steady ceasefire in Syria as they have never been before. Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov and his American colleague John Kerry announced this according to results of negotiations in Geneva that lasted for more than 12 hours.

SERGEI LAVROV AND JOHN KERRY DISCUSSED DETAIL OF A JOINT PLAN FOR REGULATION OF THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA IN GENEVA

Russia and the US are as close to approval of the joint steps that will help achievement of steady ceasefire in Syria as they have never been before. Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov and his American colleague John Kerry announced this according to results of negotiations in Geneva that lasted for more than 12 hours.
The painful waiting of journalists who were on duty near President Wilson hotel on the coast of the Geneva Lake where a meeting behind the closed doors took place for a whole day was not awarded by disclosure of the secret. The diplomats kept detail of the plan in secrecy but promised to present results of joint work to the public for consideration “very soon.”
Lavrov explained, “The fact that we do not disseminate documents does not mean that we do not find more and more points of contact. The fact that we have managed and keep trying to reduce the zones of non-understanding and, probably the most important, to reduce the level of mistrust in each other is already an achievement. According to him, delegations of Russia and the US managed “to take several very important step forwards in addition to the agreements” discussed during the voyage of Kerry to Moscow in July. Then the US Secretary of State presented to Vladimir Putin proposals about “closer coordination of actions against the terrorists.” The diplomatic source admitted that Washington did not hurry to promote the initiative of the Secretary of State and heads of Pentagon and the CIA warned the White House against an “alliance with Moscow” in public. However, aggravation of the situation in some provinces of Syria, first of all, around Aleppo forced the heads of the American and Russian diplomacy to sit down at a table of negotiations again. They were preceded by consultations of the military that were restarted in Geneva last Tuesday. Now, as Lavrov said, experts need “to bring to the end quite a few technical issues that require outlining in details.” In turn, Kerry thanked “friend Sergei” for “honest and fruitful work.” The Secretary of State confirmed, “Our teams achieved clarity on the way forward.” A source in the Russian delegation said that some real achievements might become known already at the beginning of September.
Thus, the matter is about provision of humanitarian access to the areas that have found themselves in the epicenter of hostilities. A source close to the negotiation process also reported that the parties continued coordination of the map of targets for aviation strikes on the territory of Syria. The Foreign Minister of Russia spoke about this indirectly at the press conference, “Our task is not to force these or those participants of this conflict to stop flying but to make those who fly to bomb the terrorists.”
So far, the key condition for this is not fulfilled. This is separation of forces of moderate opposition and militants of Jebhat al-Nusra and DAISH (terrorist groups prohibited in Russia). Both Kerry and Lavrov admitted that the task was difficult. Lavrov pointed at the problem, “Detachments that cooperate with the US and with the coalition headed by it are on the same territories as Jabhat al-Nusra. Along with this, they are not simply located there but they also interact with this organization periodically and participate in its operations.” The problem is aggravated by the fact that al-Nusra permanently “mimics, changes the names and invents some new “umbrellas.” According to the minister, in Geneva the Russian party made the American colleagues acquainted “with the information about how we see the composition of Jabhat al-Nusra and which smaller groups are parts of this structure.” Americans also transferred to us a list of organizations in Syria that joined the ceasefire regime through the American coalition to us for the first time.
Lavrov and Kerry also promised to influence participants of the Syrian conflict, each on his own part, to start their direct negotiations about political future of Syria as soon as possible.

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