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Lavrov Charges That Western and UN Policy Is To Block Syrian Reconstruction

Aug. 20, 2018 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during a joint press conference in Moscow with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, charged that

“the Political Department of the United Nations Secretariat has circulated a secret directive, prohibiting organizations participating in this system to take part in any projects to restore the Syrian economy. Only humanitarian relief work is allowed.”

Lavrov charged that the United States is trying to artificially slow the return of refugees to Syria by refusing to participate in restoration of its infrastructure. “A few days ago, Washington hosted a meeting” between UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “and the State Department used the phrase ‘It is premature to even discuss the restoration of Syria’ in the statement following their talks,” said Lavrov.

The subject of Lavrov’s meeting with Bassil was a Russian plan for the return to Syria of refugees living in Lebanon. When meeting in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel Aug. 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin estimated that $400 billion in investments were needed for reconstruction in Syria after eight years of war, and said Russia could not possibly fund it alone.

According to a report from RT, Lavrov’s ministry is trying to contact UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and has already sent a formal complaint about the secret directive. The existence of the secret directive was not confirmed or denied by UN Political Department officials to EIR. But Moscow has been complaining about the lack of action to return Syrian refugees and Syria reconstruction for months.

During a joint press conference in Moscow with the Jordanian Foreign Minister July 4, Lavrov stressed that Syria needs reconstruction aid without consideration of politics.

“To create favorable conditions in the liberated areas for the refugees to return home, massive international assistance is required aimed at restoring the socioeconomic infrastructure and creating new jobs,”

Lavrov said. “We are convinced that all international players who have such capabilities should assist in addressing these tasks in Syria without attempting to make the provision of such assistance dependent on some politicized conditions.”

On July 28, the Russians raised Syria reconstruction at the UN Security Council. French UN envoy François Delattre told the Council, “We will not take part in the rebuilding of Syria unless a political transition is effectively carried out,” basically meaning regime change in Syria. “No reason can justify France and the European Union’s financing of reconstruction efforts” without “stability,” he said.

On Aug. 9, Al-Monitor media site reported that while Russia has achieved some success working with regional countries that are hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, getting international agencies onboard with Russian initiatives has proved much more challenging.

“So far, we have seen no UN employees in the areas controlled by the government where assistance is needed to restore the destroyed life-support systems. I hope this is a false impression, this could be a mere coincidence,” Lavrov said.

On Aug. 13, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said it was too early to talk about a mass return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. “We think that it’s premature to promote returns,”

he said.

On Aug. 15, as Lavrov noted, after Secretary of State Pompeo and UN Special Envoy de Mistura met in Washington, the State Department said they agreed

“that any discussion of reconstruction was premature absent a political solution leading unalterably to both constitutional reform and free and fair elections as described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”

The readout issued by de Mistura’s office, however, did not confirm that he agreed on this subject.

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