Lavrov Stresses Any Action on Ground in Syria Should be Coordinated with Damascus

BEIJING- All countries should respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and coordinate any actions "on the ground" with Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following a meeting between BRICS foreign ministers on Monday.

"As for what is happening ‘on the ground’ in Syria, we proceed from the assumption that it is necessary to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity in Syria, the way it is envisaged by UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and other UN documents," the minister said. "Therefore, any actions ‘on the ground’, and there are many participants there, including those who carry out military operations, should be coordinated with Damascus," he added, according to Itar Tass.

 "That’s precisely what we are doing, along with Turkey and Iran, when we promote the Astana process," the Russian foreign minister said. "We coordinate all our initiatives and proposals with the position of the Syrian government."

"We proceed from the premise that everyone should act in a similar way, the more so when the issue at hand is occupying some areas in Syria, including the territories, which could raise questions in terms of the true intensions of those who carry out such seizures," Lavrov emphasized. "We call on the United States and all others who have their forces or their advisers ‘on the ground’ (in Syria) to ensure coordination in our work."

According to Lavrov, the de-escalation zones are a possible option for moving forward jointly. "I invite everyone to avoid unilateral actions, respect Syria’s sovereignty and join our common effort, which has been agreed with the Syrian government," Lavrov added.

Cooperation potential of BRICS countries

The potential for cooperation by BRICS member-countries to boost the efficiency in the fight against terrorism is quite significant, Lavrov stressed.

"There is a working group on countering terrorism in the (BRICS) association," Lavrov noted. "It held two meetings, and its potential is quite significant."

According to Lavrov, that should be interagency work. "We have a general opinion that it should involve the foreign ministries and law enforcement agencies, which ensure the fight against terrorism, the prevention of terrorist attacks, the exchange of relevant information," he explained. "It is clear that a group of five countries cannot resolve the problem of global terrorism. That’s why all of us proceed from the need for a much broader effort."

In this regard, Russia’s top diplomat recalled the initiative by Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish a universal anti-terrorist front. "This initiative continues to be relevant," Lavrov emphasized. "I hope that the latest decision by the UN Security Council on the basis of the proposal by Secretary General Antonio Guterres to set up the office of the special coordinator of all UN programs on combating terrorism will help make progress in this direction. Russia will be actively involved in this work."

Next Astana conference on Syrian Settlement

The next meeting in Astana on resolving the Syrian crisis will take place on July 10, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will take part in it, Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, all BRICS member-countries are interested in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. "We heard our colleagues and friends today speaking highly of the efforts made by Russia along with Turkey and Iran as part of the ‘Astana process,’ and we are grateful for that," he said.

"The next meeting in Astana will be held on July 10," the minister said. "The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy de Mistura will take part in it." "The parties agreed to finalize at that meeting the coordination of specific parameters and modalities to ensure the regime that should exist in the de-escalation zones along their perimeters," Lavrov noted.

Russia’s top diplomat recalled that the memorandum adopted at the May 4 meeting in Astana said that the countries acting as guarantors (Russia, Turkey, Iran) would welcome third countries’ intention to join this process. "When specific parameters are clear, we will be ready to consider proposals from other countries, which will be interested in contributing to the implementation of that initiative," Lavrov said.

BRICS Supports Geneva, Astana Formats on Syria, Welcomes De-Escalation Zones

The meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers, held on June 18-19 in Beijing, announced its strong support for the Geneva and Astana peace talks on solving the crisis in Syria and welcomed the establishment of de-escalation areas in the Arab republic, a statement made Monday, following the activities and results of the recent meetings, showed, according to Sputnik.

"The Ministers [of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] strongly support the Geneva Peace Talks and the Astana process, and welcome the creation of the de-escalation areas in Syria," the statement said.

The BRICS ministers stressed that the political process on Syria should be inclusive.

"The Ministers reiterate that the only lasting solution to the Syria crisis is an inclusive 'Syrian-led, Syrian-owned' political process which safeguard the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015)," the statement continued.

The de-escalation zones were created as the result of the fourth round of talks on the Syrian settlement, held in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The monitoring and management of the safe zones is carried out by military personnel from the ceasefire guarantor states, which are Russia, Turkey and Iran.

BRICS cooperation shows strong vitality

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday at the opening ceremony of the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, that the BRICS cooperation has shown strong vitality during the past ten years.

He said BRICS cooperation has greater importance, as the five countries' share in global economy has increased from 12 percent to 23 percent in the past decade while they have contributed more than half of global growth.

Trade and investment among the five countries have increased sharply, and their cooperation expanded from economy to political fields and people-to-people exchanges, Wang said.