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Russian-Israeli Coordination to ‘Reduce Tension’ South of Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a meeting on Russian air force’s activity in Syria at the national defense control center in Moscow, Russia, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/SPUTNIK/Kremlin

Moscow – Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu underlined the presence of constructive coordination with Israel to reduce tensions in south Syria, stressing that the priority was to draft a new Syrian constitution during the upcoming Astana meetings.

Addressing the Russian parliament on Wednesday, Shoigu said he hoped that work on drafting a new constitution would be launched during the Geneva or the Astana talks.

The defense minister said that Russia was actively working with Israel and Jordan on the Syrian file.
“We enjoy a constructive dialogue,” he stated.

In the same context, Shoigu said that Russia and the United States were preparing a joint project on the southern zone of de-escalation.

“We did not halt contacts and cooperation with them [the US], this is also happening almost in a round-the-clock mode, we are talking with them during the day and night, and we are meeting at different venues,” he stated.

“We are working with them and working, naturally, on the southern zone of de-escalation,” the minister said.

On a different note, Shoigu said that reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria were an information weapon and were used for political purposes.

“We have already reached the point where we are absolutely convinced today that most of the films and reports are staged, before that they were also staged. Not only we have who proved that, it was shown many times that it became an instrument. It began, as you can remember, in Iraq, when all sorts of test tubes and vials were shown up, but it turned out that there was nothing and the country was collapsed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iranian local news agencies reported that heads of national security councils of Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Syrian regime convened at a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.

While the Russian media published no information on the meeting, Fars news agency said it was attended by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih al-Fayad, and Director of Syria’s National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk.

Tasnim news said that the officials stressed the need for continued cooperation between Iran, Russia, and Turkey to implement the decisions made in the Astana talks for peace in Syria, help maintain the agreed ceasefire, and implement an agreement on the establishment of de-escalation zones in the war-torn country.

It added that talks during the meeting touched on plans for “closer cooperation among coalition members in the fight against terrorism in the region”.