All talks participants agreed Syrians must decide own future: Russia

Russia's Foreign Ministry said that in order for a US-Russian ceasefire agreement to succeed, Syria's moderate opposition must separate from Jabhat Fatah al Sham, and other "terrorist groups" affiliated with it.

By: Reuters | Moscow | Published:October 16, 2016 8:26 pm
Russia, syria, Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry, Syria moderate opposition, Jabhat Fatah al Sham, Nusra Front, syria ceasefire, Russia-US, world news, indian express Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, attend a bilateral meeting where they discussed the crisis in Syria on Saturday. (Source: AP)

Russia said all participants in talks in Lausanne had agreed Syrians should decide their own future through inclusive dialogue and that the country should remain whole and secular, after the meeting ended without a breakthrough. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that in order for a US-Russian ceasefire agreement to succeed and to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries, Syria’s moderate opposition must separate from Jabhat Fatah al Sham, previously known as the Nusra Front, and other “terrorist groups” affiliated with it.

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“At the same time, it should be understood that operations against terrorists of Islamic State and the Nusra Front will be continued,” the ministry said. Saturday’s talks, convened by US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Swiss city, failed to agree on a common strategy with Russia to end the conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year.

Kerry hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region – from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt – weeks after the collapse of a painstakingly crafted US-Russian ceasefire plan that many saw as the last hope for peace this year.

Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations in Syria’s largest city Aleppo, as well as targeting an aid convoy with the loss of around 20 lives. Syria and Russia say they are only targeting militants.

Europe was not represented at the Lausanne meeting. But France’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Kerry and foreign ministers of like-minded nations planned to meet in London on Sunday to discuss Syria. A source in the German Foreign Ministry said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to Kerry on Sunday about the results of talks in Lausanne as well as the next steps that need to be taken.

The source said both ministers agreed that despite the tough initial situation, every effort must continue to be made to bring about a new humanitarian ceasefire, to get aid supplies safely to eastern Aleppo and to create the conditions for a new ceasefire.