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Russia’s Lavrov: Upcoming Astana Syria Talks will Tackle De-escalation Zones | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference. (Reuters)

Moscow, Ankara – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US-led international coalition fighting terrorism in Syria of “sparing” the al-Nusra Front group from strikes in Syria, calling it a true manifestation of double standards that should be abandoned.

Speaking at a presser with his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu, Lavrov said that the anticipated meeting in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, will be dedicated to drafting the fine print for the de-escalation zones deal for Syria.

The meeting is hosted under a Russia-Turkey-Iran tripartite sponsorship and will be attended by a Syrian regime delegation and opposition representatives.

“We consider it a very dangerous game that should be stopped, and all the double standards or some ulterior thoughts should be set aside for the sake of uncompromising fight against terrorism,” Lavrov said.

The Russian top diplomat also hoped that the forthcoming discussions in Astana would positively impact the efforts for resolving the conflict and moving forward the negotiating process in Geneva.

According to Lavrov, work is in progress on de-esclation zones and the experts’ committee tasked with establishing “safe havens” is still discussing “practical, technical and military professional issues whether it is to monitor compliance with the cessation of hostilities, to ensure unhindered access, to deliver humanitarian aid, and to transport civilians.”

Lavrov said that “since the announcement of the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria, there has been a significant decline of military activity and violence” in those areas.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have confirmed their participation in the next international meeting on Syria scheduled to be held on July 4-5, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told reporters on Monday.

“We have received participation confirmation from all the guarantor countries, sent by the special representative of the Russian president, the special representative of the Turkish foreign minister, as well as the Turkish and Iranian deputy foreign ministers,” he said.

According to the Kazakh top diplomat, United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the Jordanian delegation have also confirmed their participation.

“We expect the United States to send their high-ranking representative to take part in the next Astana meeting as an observer,” the Kazakh foreign minister added.

“We also expect the guarantor countries to finally confirm the participation of the Syrian regime delegation, as well as the delegation of the armed opposition,” Abdrakhmanov pointed out.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said earlier that a high-level meeting on settling the situation in Syria would be held in Astana on July 4-5. The guarantor countries – Russia, Iran and Turkey – are expected to consider documents concerning various aspects of the de-escalation zones, as well as discuss steps which need to be taken to ensure unhindered humanitarian access and restore infrastructure facilities.