Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic Walid Muallem
On April 13, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Moscow with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic Walid Muallem.
The talks focused on the military-political situation in Syria after the US missile strike at the Syrian Air Force Shayrat Base early on April 7.
Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed Russia’s invariable stand in support of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria. He pointed out that Washington’s use of military force in circumvention of the UN Security Council was a gross violation of international law, ran contrary to the goals of fighting international terrorism, threatened regional and global security and undermined the collective efforts taken in Geneva and Astana to promote a political and diplomatic settlement in Syria. The ministers discussed joint moves that can be taken to minimise the negative consequences of the aggressive US action.
At the same time, they pointed out that the April 4 tragedy at Khan Sheikhoun should be thoroughly investigated by a geographically balanced group of OPCW experts. Sergey Lavrov welcomed Damascus’s willingness to let an OPCW mission inspect the Shayrat airfield and to create safe working conditions for the international experts.
Walid Muallem expressed gratitude for Russia’s support for the Syrian people, who have been living for the past six years amid an acute crisis and an open military conflict. The Syrian minister reaffirmed the Syrian government’s resolve to look for compromise solutions to internal political problems in order to end the violence and restore order and stability in the country.
The parties again said that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis, which can be only settled by political and diplomatic means. In this context, they stressed the importance of continued negotiations in Astana and Geneva between the Syrian Government and the opposition.
While discussing the bilateral agenda, Mr Lavrov and Mr Muallem reaffirmed mutual resolve to continue to develop and strengthen broad bilateral cooperation and outlined ways to enhance the effectiveness of trade, economic and cultural cooperation.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Walid Muallem, Moscow, April 13, 2017
We are pleased to welcome your delegation to this regular and rather timely meeting.
The political settlement process in Syria is going through a difficult stage. Not everyone is happy with the progress that we have ensured together with our Turkish and Iranian partners and the Syrian government with support from Kazakhstan and with US participation as observer in the Astana format. Attempts are underway to undermine the ceasefire regime that was agreed upon in Astana and that was welcomed at the UN Security Council. Naturally, I have to stress the incendiary role played by the strike against a Syrian military airfield that was carried out by the US-led coalition.
Yesterday, I discussed this in detail with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. We agreed that this must not happen again. We will insist on an independent and objective investigation by the OPCW, bringing in additional experts, given the extremely emotional response that this situation has elicited in the world.
Yesterday, attempts were made at the Security Council to use the April 4 incident in Idlib Province for groundlessly accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons and justifying the April 7 strike. The Western “troika” submitted an absolutely groundless, unilateral draft resolution that sounds like an accusation. This draft failed to get support at the UN Security Council. We prevented that. We will insist on passing a resolution to conduct an objective, impartial investigation at the site of the incident and at the airfield in question. I believe the Syrian government took a correct and responsible step by inviting OPCW inspectors to conduct the investigation.
Amid the hysteria that has flared up in the West, it is of paramount importance not to succumb to provocation and to prevent the undoing of the results of the efforts achieved within the framework of the Astana and Geneva processes. It is encouraging that, despite all the negative developments of the past few days, this approach, based on the premise that there is no alternative to the political process, was also reaffirmed yesterday by Secretary of State Tillerson.
Today we have a good opportunity to consider in substance all key issues in the context of preparations for upcoming meetings within the framework of the Astana process. I am referring to consultations between Russian, Turkish and Iranian experts in Tehran next week and the next round of Astana talks in early May in the capital of Kazakhstan.
Today we will devote a bilateral meeting to these issues, and tomorrow we will continue our conversation in a tripartite format, with the participation of our Iranian colleague, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.