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Lavrov: ‘Idlib Complications Delay Astana Talks, Calls with Riyadh to Form Unified Opposition Delegation’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry (L) attends joint press conference with his Russian Counterpart Sergei Lavrov (R) in Moscow. Reuters

Moscow- Recent developments related to the efforts to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, form a unified delegation representing the Syrian opposition in the negotiations with the regime and the overall efforts of the political settlement of the Syrian crisis were the main topics discussed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry during a round of talks in Moscow on Monday.

The two sides also tackled bilateral relations and crises faced by several countries in the Middle East, including the situation in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. They stressed the necessity of adopting international references and internal dialogue to find solutions for these crises.

They also stressed the importance of the Palestinian cause and the need to activate the settlement efforts on the basis of a two-state solution to end the conflict.

The two foreign ministers expressed their conviction that efforts should be mobilized to counter terrorism and work to stop its funding and its ideological support.

In a press conference following his talks with his counterpart, Lavrov said that Moscow and Cairo have been working together to help the Syrian opposition form a unified delegation to negotiate with the Syrian regime.

Lavrov pointed out that Moscow is also carrying out talks with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries in this regard, and the results will be announced soon.

Egypt plays an important role in supporting the idea of establishing de-escalation zones in Syria, he added.

On the progress of negotiations on establishing de-escalation zones in the countryside of the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Lavrov stressed that particular process is difficult, recalling that Russia, Turkey and Iran as the guarantors of the truce participate in various discussions and negotiations as regards the issue.

He revealed that between the last week of August and the first week of September there will be a high-level meeting between experts from guarantor states, in order to get prepared for the next round of negotiations on settlement of the Syrian crisis in Astana.

He explained that the purpose of these talks is about reaching agreements between the forces that oppose the Syrian government. These agreements should include a consensus so that a de-eslaction zone can be established in Idlib province, and ways to ensure security in the safe belts on the borders of the province.

Lavrov noted that negotiations are conducted primarily on military level, with diplomacy actively supporting the process.

For his part, Shoukry affirmed that Egypt supports the de-escalation zones agreement in Syria, noting that his country’s role in this regard is limited to providing the appropriate ground for it politically, and that its role is not expected to expand to any participation on the ground in monitoring these areas.

He reiterated his country’s insistence that the political solution to the crisis in Syria is the way that should be adopted and supported by all parties until Syria regains its stability.