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Moscow Ready to Discuss “Safe Zones” with U.S. in Coordination with Syrian Regime | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov. PHOTO: AFP

Moscow, Beirut – Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said that his country might support the U.S. initiative to establish safe zones for refugees in Syria, should the Syrian government approves on this matter.

Lavrov said Monday that the plan would require close cooperation with the U.N. and approval from head of Syrian Bashar Assad’s government.

Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference with his Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh, said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to create safe zones in Syria was aimed at easing the refugee crisis in Europe, particularly in neighboring countries.

“If this is about the people who were forced to leave their homes by the conflict, […] getting their basic needs covered, […] then I think that the idea to create areas within Syria for those internally displaced could be discussed with the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations,” he said.

He added that the proposal would require negotiations with Damascus to agree on the principles of creating such safe zones on the Syrian territories.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Walid al-Moallem warned Monday that plans to establish safe zones on Syrian territory would be unsafe and violate the Arab nation’s sovereignty, unless they come in coordination with the Syrian government.

Moallem’s statements came during a meeting on Monday with the head of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, who began an official visit to Syria on Monday, AP reported.

Syrian state news agency, SANA, said the foreign ministry and UNHCR officials agreed that any attempt to impose safe zones without coordination with the Syrian government will be an “unsafe act and will pose a violation of the Syrian sovereignty.”