Struggle with Terrorism no Carte Blanche for Military Presence in Syria: Gatilov

 GENEVA-Struggle with terrorist groupings does not mean that separate nations or coalitions have a carte blanche for military presence in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Tuesday.

Only the Syrian authorities have the power to determine, the armed units from which countries they should invite to their territory, while the UN does not have the right of this kind, he said, according to Itar Tass.

"Struggle with terrorist grouping doesn’t mean in any way some or other countries or their coalitions get a carte blanche for military presence on the Syrian territory.

 Gatilov: Postponing Syrian talks in Geneva not discussed at meeting with de Mistura

Gatilov also said that the issue of putting off the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva was not discussed during his meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

"During our consultations, de Mistura confirmed that the next round [of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva] will be held on November 28," Gatilov said answering a question from a TASS correspondent. "This date remains fixed, we did not discuss putting the meeting off."

"We familiarized De Mistura in detail with the forthcoming Congress, an event that we hope to host in the first days of December," Gatilov said. "We also answered his questions and told him about how we viewed the gathering."

"It will help coordinate steps together with UN officials on the track of political settlement in Syria."

"We expressed mutual confidence this inspired hope for a revival of political process that had been stalled for a long time," Gatilov said. "It was in the deadlock for quite a long time and now it will make a constitutive contribution to the cause or political settlement."

He said De Mistura had perceived Russia’s initiative for convening the Syrian National Dialogue Congress with understanding and said he would familiarize the Secretary General with it, after which they would take a decision on the level of their participation in it.

Gatilov also said the Congress would certainly take up several days.

"It’s too early yet to discuss it now but I think several days will be needed," he said.

He added that Moscow does not set a goal for itself to replace the pan-Syrian talks in Geneva.

"We support the Geneva negotiations and that’s why we don’t set a goal for ourselves to replace this format in one way or another," he said. "The things implemented in the Astana format. The things already taking place in the framework of Astana or the Syrian National Dialogue Congress are mutually compatible steps but all of them aim to revive the political process.".

Initially, the eighth round of talks on Syria in Geneva was planned for September, however de Mistura told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that most likely the meeting will take place in October.

On October 26, the UN envoy told the UN Security Council that the start of a new round of talks between Damascus and the opposition in Geneva was set for November 28.

Syrian National Dialogue Congress to Be Held in early December

After talks with the special envoy for the UN Secretary General for Syria, Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday, Gatilov said that theSyrian National Dialogue Congress will take place in Sochi at the beginning of December .

"We informed the Secretary General about the forthcoming National Dialogue Congress," he said, according to Itar Tass.

"This event will take place approximately at the beginning of December."

Preparations for Syrian National Dialogue Conference Proceeding in a Precise Manner

Meanwhile in Moscow, Syria’s Ambassador in Moscow Riyad Haddad emphasized that the preparations for the Syrian national dialogue congress are proceeding in a precise manner.

Sputnik agency quoted Haddad as saying in a statement to journalists Moscow that the congress will not be held in November 18th as it was planned earlier because the preparations are not done yet. He also pointed out that it is essential to prepare comprehensively for this process to run successfully.

Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated a few days ago that Moscow is working actively in coordination with the Syrian government, the UN, and other international partners to hold the Syrian national dialogue congress.

H.M

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