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Syria's political decision backs positive efforts, says al-Zou'bi

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ Syrian initiative has been based, since the very beginning of the crisis, on  a political solution and on the launching of a comprehensive national dialogue in which everyone takes part, says Omran al-Zou'bi, Information Minister.

In an interview with the Lebanese al-Manar TV Channel on Monday, the minister said the Syrian government has welcomed the result of the US Secretary of State John Kerry's talks in Moscow with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on May 7,2013  as to find a political solution to the crisis.

"The Syrian government expressed 'cautious optimism' over the US-Russian accord as there must be further steps and discussion in details... We need to know whether this accord for the US and its allies is a sole option behind closed doors and in public," al-Zou'bi said.

Political developments

He clarified that political and military developments, including Israel's strike on sites in Syria and Turkey's al-Rayhaniya Blasts as well as the rush of Turkish officials to accuse Syria for the blasts, have something to do with the political solution and the US-Russian meeting.

"These developments raise a question about the role of Turkey, Qatar and others in political solution…are they ready to lose their weapons and money without notching up their goals, which are in their dreams, including toppling Syrian state and stance," the minister added.

He underscored that the Arab and regional tools are not decision-makers.

International conference

As for Syria's participation in the international conference which the US and Russia agreed to hold, al-Zou'bi said that the participation is conditional upon having information about details and developments.

He stressed that Syria's 'clear and obvious' political decision is based on backing positive international efforts to bring about political solution to the crisis and at the same time fighting terrorism.

"Syria will never take part in any political meeting that directly or indirectly impinges on national sovereignty."

"The question of the president and constitution comes within the principle of national sovereignty….only Syrian people have the right to make decision in this regard."

"Our national project, as a government, is clear…we want a democratic, free, and sovereign country. The Syrian people do not accept any part of their country to be outside the national sovereignty," he added.

Syrian Arab army's policy

On the other hand, the minister asserted that the Syrian Arab army has not lost the initiative on the ground.

"When the army blockades an area, it addresses armed terrorists groups to lay down their weapons and avoid damaging residential areas….Actually, the existence of gunmen in some residential areas prevents the army from carrying out large-scale operations."

Al-Zou'bi noted that 150 gunmen, in Damascus countryside, have turned themselves in and handed over their weapons, calling on all gunmen to lay down their weapons and give up the idea of confronting state.

The minister appealed to foreign gunmen, who came from other states to Syria, to leave the country with their weapons because they will be eliminated by the Syrian Arab army.

Basma Qaddour

Gatilov Urges UN Response to Syria's Request to Investigate Chemical Weapons Use in Aleppo

MOSCOW, (ST) - Russia has urged the UN General Secretariat to respond positively, in accordance with laws, to the Syrian government's request to investigate the incident of using chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal area of Aleppo countryside, Genadi Gatilov, the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister said on Tuesday, describing the Secretariat's stance in this respect as unconstructive.

Talking to journalists in Moscow ahead of the  forthcoming visit of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to Russia on May 16th, Gatilov said " this problem can be solved when the UN General Secretariat responds to the Syrian government's request regarding the investigation of chemical weapons' use in Syria," affirming that Russia supports such a step.

He pointed out that Syria's request had reached the UN Chief and it should have been implemented by sending the already formed inspection team to Syria.

Concerning the International Conference, scheduled to be held over the next weeks to discuss Syria, Gatilov said a soon conference on Syria is necessary to secure the implementation of the agreements signed in Geneva on June 30th 2012.

He pointed out that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the forthcoming meeting on Syria during their meeting in Moscow last week. The two officials came to an agreement on the need to encourage the Syrian government and Syria’s opposition groups to resolve the crisis through negotiations.

Gatilov said that the UN Chief also favors a political solution to the Syrian crisis saying that there is no alternative to a diplomatic solution in Syria.

Regarding the issue of opening so-called "humanitarian corridors" in Syria, Gatilov said "Regrettably, such destructive ideas keep appearing from time to time, but no one has ever taken the trouble of thinking about their consequences. In our opinion, such decisions could be adopted exclusively by the UN Security Council and any other measures will be absolutely illegitimate."

The Russian diplomat affirmed that the "Libyan scenario has shown that the Security Council resolutions can be interpreted too loosely and can be made to serve certain political goals."

" We all remember that the arms embargo imposed on Libya was used by many countries to supply weapons to one of the sides in the conflict, and the no-fly zone, which was created to protect the civilian population, became an instrument for dismantling the country's infrastructure," Gatilov said, pointing out that the results of international intervention in Libya can still be seen in what is going on in Libya.

" That is why we are very closely following any new suggestions related to this matter," he added.

H. Mustafa

World Peace Council: Turkish's Policy Aims at Destabilizing the Region

PRAGUE, (ST) –"undoubtedly, Turkey adopts a political and military policy as regards intervention in the region especially after the deployment of NATO patriot missiles near Syria's borders. This simply means that Turkey's policy is part of imperialist plots aimed at destabilizing the region, "underscored  the World Peace Council.

In a statement, the Council called on the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to exploit the bombings which rocked al-Rihaniya city as a pretext for a declared attack against Syria.

" the tragic bombings of al-Rihaniya reminds the  world of the daily suffering of the Syrian people because of the terrorist attacks carried out  by the armed groups which infiltrate into Syria from the neighboring countries, particularly al-Rihaniya city, "the council noted.

The Council voices solidarity with the ongoing demonstrations in more than 10 Turkish cities which are calling for peace and ending interference in Syria.



Russia, Iran For Halting Violence in Syria

MOSCOW, (ST)_The Russian President's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov discussed on Monday with the Iranian Ambassador in Moscow Mohammad Reza Sajjadi the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

"both sides underscored that there is a necessity to  end violence in Syria  and to launch a speedy political settlement through broad dialogue that includes all Syrians ," said The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement released after the said meeting.

Russia and Iran reiterated  the importance of the  dialogue that leads to ''achieving national accord according to the Geneva communiqué.''

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled  that ''Syria had hailed Russia's efforts for solving the crisis in Syria, especially the anticipated  plans as regards holding  an international conference on Syria.''

Bogdanov Receives Haddad

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the Russian president's Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov received in Moscow on Monday the Syrian ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad.

"Haddad voiced Syria's appreciation for efforts exerted  by Russia for a speedy solution to the crisis in Syria according to the action group's statement issued in Geneva on June 30, 2012, and its call for holding an international conference on Syria, "added the Russian foreign ministry statement



Syrians Determine to Knock out terrorism: Al-Halqi


DAMASCUS, (ST) –"the Syrian people have chosen their path and set their minds to ensuring the success of an-all out national dialogue as it is  the only exit to leave the crisis behind. The Syrian people are determined to knock out terrorism and consequently to restore security and stability to Syria,"said Prime Minister Dr.Waelal-Halqi.

Al-Halqi's remark was made during a meeting held on Monday between the  ministerial committee, entrusted with  materializing  the political program for resolving the crisis in Syria ,and the Democratic Socialist Unionist Party(DSUP) politburo led by the party's Secretary-General Fadllalah Nasser-Eddin.

Denouncing the bombings hit al-Rihaniya city which  targeted the friendly people of Turkey, al-Halqi affirmed that  '' Erdogan's government-affiliated agents  are to blame for the  coward terrorist attacks as  this government has become a source of instability and concern for the neighboring countries and the entire region,'' due to its  hostile policies following the major defeats that the armed takfiri groups sustained at the hands of the Syrian army.''

"actually, there are only  two options for the mercenary terrorist groups; either to return to where they came from, or be killed by the Syrian armed forces, indicating that the government's doors are wide open to whoever wants to return to the right path, al-Halqi added.

Al-Halqi hailed  the Syrian Arab army's resolve  in harmony with  people to crush  the conspiracy and pursue whoever holds  arms against the Syrian state, army and people.

"the government is serious, honest and open to all political and social and opposition forces inside and outside Syria which believe in the national solution, indicating that the Syrian gunmen are becoming convinced that a major conspiracy occurs  in Syria," Al-Halqi reiterated.

Nasser-Eddin ,for his part, voiced  his party's support to the political program for solving the crisis proposed by President Bashar Al-Assad, hailing the government's national stances and its exceptional competence manifested in getting the first stage of the political program successfully accomplished.