Will Russia unveil the secret Syria agreements?

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September 16, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 

cont.ws – translated by J. Arnoldski

Moscow and Washington are discussing unveiling the text of their agreement on Syria, reached on September 9th by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, to the UN Security Council.

This was announced by the Russian president’s special representative on Middle Eastern and African affairs, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who revealed some of the details of the agreement between the foreign policy department heads. 

As Bogdanov remarked in an interview with RIA Novosti, Russia is in favor of publishing the Syrian agreements in the UN Security council. He emphasized that the UN Security Council should appeal for the agreement to be supported, but this requires its members being familiar with the document. According to the diplomat, Russia is negotiating with Washington on disclosing the agreement. 

“We are now holding talks on this with our American partners. The very idea of the UN Security Council supporting these agreements is, in our opinion, useful, as it is incorrect to ask partners to support something they don’t know,” the deputy foreign minister is quoted as saying.

Bogdanov also revealed some of the agreement’s points. In his words, the agreement between Lavrov and Kerry did not discuss the future of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The deputy minister explains that this question is purely one for Syrians. In addition, it does not discuss the transition process in Syria’s domestic politics.

“We proceed from the fact that we do not need to reinvent the wheel or come up with something that we’ve already agreed upon long ago. These documents have a very solid consensus and were agreed upon by the International Syria Support Group with the participation of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, co-chaired by Russia and the US, as well as by the UN’s special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura,” Bogdanov stressed.

In his opinion, Lavrov and Kerry’s agreements will stimulate the beginning of inclusive dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition.

“We believe that all of these agreements should seriously stimulate the beginning of a sustainable, inclusive, and mutually satisfying political process with the participation of Syrian pro-government and anti-government forces,” the deputy foreign minister stated.

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Bogdanov also remarked that it is still not clear whether the Kurds will participate in inter-Syrian negotiations that could be held in early October.

The diplomat emphasized: “Russia as a matter of principle defends the right of representatives of the largest Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party to participate in the Geneva process. However, there is still no clarity on this issue. There is too much pressure from some members of the International Syria Support Group which perceive the Democratic Union either as terrorist accomplices or as something superfluous since Kurdish delegates from other political associations are already represented in Geneva.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov added that Russia is trying to convey to its partners the “need to invite negotiators from the Democratic Union Party to Geneva as they are the leading force organizing resistance against ISIS in North-Eastern Syria.”

According to Bogdanov, Russia expects the US to be cautious in its work with the armed opposition in Syria, which refuses to support the ceasefire. 

“We are waiting for our American partners to discerningly discuss and work with such uncompromising opposition groups, because their position will not bring peace to Syria,” he stated.

As the deputy minister noted, it is unacceptable for the political process in Syria to become the hostage of destructive forces who do not desire to participate in inter-Syrian negotiations. In particular, he mentioned the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition which “constantly violates the principle of not setting preconditions for communicating with official Damascus.”

Bogdanov added that Moscow has no secret plans for Syria: “What we agreed upon in Vienna, New York, and in the UN Security Council is the only plan we support. We call on others to fulfill the obligations arising from these documents based on international consensus.” 

On September 9th, negotiations between Lavrov and Kerry in Geneva concluded, during the course of which the foreign policy heads agreed on a new plan for settling the situation in Syria and produced a package of 5 documents. They include, in particular, a ceasefire as well as US-Russian cooperation on fighting terrorism.

As Lavrov reported earlier, Moscow intends to seek the publication of the agreements reached with the US on Syria, while Washington still wishes to keep them secret. 

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