West should lift Syria sanc­tions: Am­bas­sador

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

MOSCOW: Syria’s UN am­bas­sador on Thurs­day urged West­ern pow­ers to lift crip­pling eco­nomic sanc­tions against the war-torn coun­try if they are se­ri­ous about help­ing mil­lions of Syr­ian refugees to re­turn to their home­land.

Bashar Ja’afari spoke in the Kazakh cap­i­tal of As­tana where Rus­sia, Tur­key and Iran are hold­ing talks with the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion. The me­di­a­tors are speak­ing separately to the war­ring sides, which are not meet­ing face-to-face.

Nearly 6 mil­lion Syr­i­ans have led the civil war, now in its eighth year, to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and Europe. Syria and Rus­sia, one of its main back­ers, in­sist that the refugees can safety re­turn home now while many Syr­i­ans fear that they will face per­se­cu­tion.

Ja’afari says lift­ing the sanc­tions im­posed on Syria would be “the real test” for the West.

“Sanc­tions should be lifted so that peo­ple could re­turn to their jobs, re­turn to a nor­mal life, to the de­vel­op­ment and lour­ish­ing of their coun­try,” he said in com­ments car­ried by Rus­sian news agen­cies.

Europe says it will keep its sanc­tions in place as long as “re­pres­sion” con­tin­ues in Syria, ex­tend­ing the mea­sures to 2019.

UN Spe­cial En­voy for Syria Staffan de Mis­tura in a state­ment af­ter the talks ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment with the fact that the war­ring sides and the me­di­a­tors still have not agreed on what should be in­cluded in the com­mit­tee meant to draft a new con­sti­tu­tion for the coun­try.

De Mis­tura said he “deeply re­grets” that the As­tana meet­ing did not show any tan­gi­ble progress in that di­rec­tion and called the meet­ing “a missed op­por­tu­nity to ac­cel­er­ate the es­tab­lish­ment of a cred­i­ble, bal­anced and in­clu­sive, Syr­ian-owned, Syr­ian-led, Un-fa­cil­i­tated con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee.”

Rus­sian en­voy for Syria Alexan­der Lavren­tyev told Rus­sian news agen­cies af­ter the meet­ing that Rus­sia would love to see the com­mit­tee formed “as soon as pos­si­ble” but said the work to form the com­mit­tee may stretch into next year.

Ja’afari said that all for­eign “il­le­git­i­mate” forces should pull out of the coun­try if the in­ten­tion is to help Syria come out of the cri­sis. He named the US, Turk­ish, French and Bri­tish forces only. He es­ti­mated that more than 10,000 Turk­ish soldiers are in north­ern Syria.

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