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Zakharova Slams US Calls to End Astana Talks on Syria

MOSCOW- Russia believes that the call by US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey to "pull the plug" on the Russia-led Sochi and Astana talks on Syria is unprofessional and unconstructive, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Wednesday, according to Itar Tass.

"Such broad statements that if [progress on the Syrian constitutional committee is not achieved] by December, then that’s the end, are inappropriate here. For experts, this is a sign that those people who make these assessments are not professionals," Zakharova said. These statements play into the hands of those who oppose peaceful settlement and "these are additional arguments for the remaining extremists and militants."

 "In general, we consider that these statements, mildly speaking, are unconstructive. The political settlement process [in Syria] is not easy, and our experts are dealing with this on an everyday basis with their colleagues," the diplomat said.

Washington has started explicitly demonstrating that Russia’s efforts on resolving the Syrian crisis are not advantageous for it, Zakharova noted.

"We have always emphasized that any timeframes imposed as a recipe are ineffective and destructive in this case. This is a delicate process and this concerns the future of the state system and the people, and this nation is multiconfessional and multiethnic."

Earlier, US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey suggested "pulling the plug" on the Sochi and Astana talks on peaceful settlement in Syria unless they yielded a decision on setting up a constitutional committee for the Arab state by mid-December.