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Russians Insist on No Delay of Syria Talks

June 4, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone, yesterday, on the Syrian situation. "Lavrov expressed concern about attempts to delay the resumption of political negotiations under various pretexts," said the Russian Foreign Ministry reports Reuters. Lavrov said, in an interview afterwards that the U.S. has asked Russia not to bomb Al Nusra in Syria. "They [the U.S.] are telling us not to hit it [al-Nusra Front], because there are also ‘normal’ opposition groups [on those territories]," he said. He stressed that "such opposition groups should leave terrorist positions," adding that "we have long agreed on that."

State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed, yesterday, that the U.S. has indeed made such a request. Kerry, he said,

"conveyed to Russia and the Assad regime that they need to carefully distinguish between these terrorist groups operating on the ground and those parties to the cessation of hostilities,"

Toner told reporters during the regular State Department briefing.

Lavrov stressed, in his interview, that terrorism is the common threat that everyone should focus on. "It is important to provide humanitarian access to the settlements blocked by one side or another, to secure the ceasefire and to prevent its violation, as well as to launch the political process but, as important as these goals are, terrorism is our common threat, and there should be no doubt about that." He also said that the political process in Syria

"is being held back by radical opposition groups that refuse to come to the negotiating table and set preconditions for peace talks."

Lavrov’s remarks on preconditions followed those of Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, yesterday, who charged that imposing preconditions on resuming talks is immoral.

"It is wrong and immoral to say that the real [intra-Syrian] talks will not start until all humanitarian issues have been resolved,"

he said following a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Syria. "Real talks must continue" without any preconditions.

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