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Russian-French Talks in Geneva to Find ‘Common Syrian Grounds’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shakes hands with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a joint news conference following their meeting in Moscow, Russia June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Moscow – Russian and French diplomats and military officials held a round of consultations in Geneva on Saturday, during which they discussed prospects for a settlement in Syria and the possibility to find common ground between Russia and France.

Talks have also touched on a French proposal to form an international working group on the Syrian crisis, that would include the Security Council permanent members and regional forces involved in the Syrian conflict.

UN Permanent Representative at the UN Alexey Borodavkin and officials from the Russian defense ministry attended the meeting, along with French President Emmanuel Macron’s deputy political advisor, Aurelien Lechevallier and representatives from the French defense ministry.

In remarks following the consultations, Borodavkin said the two sides highly praised the recent military success in countering ISIS in Syria, referring to the lifting of the siege on Deir al-Zor and the ongoing military operations there against the terrorist organization.

The Russian diplomat added that participants have valued the calm situation in the de-escalation zones, which would pave the way for a political settlement in the country, describing what is happening in Syria as a “civil war”.

The Russian-French consultations were held following talks in Moscow on Friday between French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The two officials reviewed Syrian settlement efforts, as the French minister presented some aspects of Macron’s initiative to form an international working group for the Syrian conflict.

While Moscow did not clarify its position towards the French initiative, Lavrov stressed during his joint press conference with Le Drian on the importance of adhering to the previously established mechanisms such as the International Support Group for Syria and its subcommittees, implying a Russian rejection to the launching of new initiatives.