Updated-Lavrov: Russia moves ahead with resolving crisis in Syria and supporting Syrian talks in Geneva

Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that his country is moving ahead with resolving the crisis in Syria, activating the Astana platform, and supporting the Syrian talks in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations in accordance with international resolution no.2254.

In a press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Moscow, Lavrov said that Russia has informed its partners of the Russian efforts to push forward the settlement of the crisis in Syria, launch the dialogue between the Syrians, and activate the platform of Astana, adding that Russia expressed its support for the Syrian talks in Geneva under the auspices of the UN, which should be based on resolution 2254.

On conducting an investigation about what happened in Khan Sheikhoun in the countryside of Idleb and the US aggression on al-Shairat airfield in the countryside of Homs, Lavrov said that Russia expects the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send experts to Syria to investigate the two incidents.

“We will expect that after all, the OPCW will send experts to Khan Sheikhoun and to the al-Shairat airfield strictly on the basis of its mandate, which requires the widest possible geographical representation of experts,” he said, expressing hope that the OPCW investigation would be transparent and “not cloaked in any secret from member countries that pay for the work of this mechanism.”

He reiterated that what happened in Khan Sheikhoun is an attempt to form a distorted reality and then use this reality to try to evade the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on resolving the crisis in Syria on the basis of the Syrian-Syrian dialogue and move towards changing the government in Syria.

Lavrov said that the attempts of the US and the West to prevent sending OPCW experts to al-Shairat is strange, noting that the West and US demanded immediately after the incident in Khan Sheikhoun to send experts to the airfield to check the presence of bombs with chemicals, and first of them was the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but that quickly disappeared after the strike on al-Shairat.

He added that the Western partners and OPCW officials did not agree to send experts to the airfield and said that the OPCW is moving only in the places where the materials were used, noting that he told US Secretary of State that there was a discrepancy in these views and asked him to return to his first position that the airport should be visited.

He pointed out that all information on this issue must be available, as it was said that samples have been taken and studied, but the question is who took these samples, in which lab they were examined, and who passed them, and was there respect for the criteria for not manipulating them from the place where they were taken to the laboratory?

Lavrov wondered how the OPCW can be operating with a mechanism where its two parts are headed by only British representatives, adding that one of those parts responded to the issue of sending samples that have been gathered in eastern Aleppo on using chemical substances by terrorists under the pretext that that requires more time while the other part managed in a short time to support the claims of the so-called “White Helmets” against the Syrian government.

For her part, Mogherini affirmed the need to continue efforts to combat terrorism and work on resolving the crisis in Syria politically based on the Security Council resolution and the Syrian talks in Geneva, adding that there are common interests to put an end to this crisis and eliminate ISIS terrorist organization and preserve the unity of the Syrian territory.

Mogherini also called for a full and transparent investigation by the OPCW on the Khan Sheikhoun incident.

Gatilov, de Mistura discuss crisis in Syria 

In a relevant context, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov discussed with UN Special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva the track and aspects of the political settlement for the crisis in Syria in light of the multiple political contacts recently held with different formulas.

“Both sides pointed out to the need for all main parties to continue their efforts to boost the cessation of hostilities in Syria and solve the humanitarian problems of the families,” Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Manar al-Freih / Hazem Sabbagh

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