For­eign minister says Syria process ‘sab­o­taged’

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Rus­sia’s for­eign minister ac­cused other coun­tries in­volved in Syr­ian peace ne­go­ti­a­tions of hav­ing “sab­o­taged” the process with con­tin­ued back­ing of mil­i­tant groups in­tent on top­pling Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad.

Sergey Lavrov made the re­marks Wed­nes­day on a visit to Greece, a NATO and Euro­pean Union mem­ber that has main­tained close ties with Rus­sia.

He didn’t name any coun­tries. Peace talks have in­volved U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and the for­eign min­is­ters of Turkey, Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar, and Iran.

“Un­for­tu­nately on many oc­ca­sions, ef­forts for a po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion have been sab­o­taged. That is not in ac­cor­dance with U.N. Se­cu­rity Council res­o­lu­tions . Some par­ties are back­ing ex­trem­ists aimed at re­mov­ing the As­sad regime,” Lavrov said.

“If those res­o­lu­tions had been car­ried out in an hon­est way, the sit­u­a­tion in Syria would have al­ready im­proved.”

Lavrov met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los, as part of a friend­ship ini­tia­tive be­tween the two coun­tries that in­cluded mul­ti­ple cul­tural ex­changes and a visit to Greece in May by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Over the week­end, the Rus­sian navy de­stroyer Smetlivy reached Greece’s main port of Pi­raeus be­fore sail­ing onto the east Mediter­ranean to join war­ships back­ing gov­ern­ment forces in Syria’s five-yearold civil war.

Rus­sia’s re­la­tions with the U.S. and its al­lies came un­der fur­ther strain af­ter Moscow used air­power to back a Syr­ian gov­ern­ment siege of Aleppo, Syria’s sec­ond largest city. Peace talks re­sumed af­ter Rus­sia halted the airstrikes last month.

“We have seen that af­ter every hu­man­i­tar­ian pause, the op­por­tu­nity is used by the ter­ror­ists to strengthen their man­power and weaponry,” Lavrov said.

Athens is keen to main­tain close ties with fel­low-Ortho­dox Chris­tian Rus­sia, de­spite its par­tic­i­pa­tion in EU sanc­tions against Moscow, and a gas pipe­line project de­signed to limit Rus­sia’s re­gional en­ergy dom­i­nance.

Rus­sia is one of Greece’s main trad­ing part­ners, but busi­ness has been hit by the sanc­tions and a drop in com­mod­ity prices.

Lavrov’s trip comes less than two weeks be­fore a visit to Greece by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

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