Lavrov: Much work should be done on Syria

MOSCOW- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has opened a solemn meeting devoted to Diplomats’ Day by a minute of silence,according to ITAR TASS.

 “These days we mark many events related to commemorative dates - World War II and the Great Patriotic War. The memory about the war is sacred and we shouldn’t allow those who try to revise history and the results of World War II to come up,” Lavrov aid.

 “We have many tasks. The situation in international affairs is rather unpredictable. The events develop sweepingly and we should be ready for any turn,” the minister said, adding “There is issue, which would be closed and solved.”

 “Much work should be done on Syria and Iran in order to prevent the use of force on these tracks,” he said.

 “For us it is important to develop different diplomatic methods by using our predecessors’ experience,” Lavrov said.

 “Russia calls for forming a polycentric system within international law. The U.N. Charter is the major foundation for giving the international relations system fairer,” the minister said.

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Putin notes Russian diplomats’ success on Syrian, Iranian tracks

MOSCOW- Russian diplomats should do their best to create favorable conditions for ensuring economic sustainable development and increasing living citizens’ standards, President Vladimir Putin said in a greetings message on Diplomats’ Day,according to ITAR TASS.

The greetings message has been read out by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

 “There are many clear, remarkable and outstanding names among Russian diplomats. The country is proud of the best diplomats, their professionalism and contribution to ensuring national interests. Based on the traditions of their predecessors and modern realities you seek to effectively solve the most difficult problems,” Putin said.

 “Serious progress was achieved in foreign policy due to your efforts. You succeeded in several major international issues, including the Syrian and Iranian tracks,” the president said.

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UN/OPCW joint mission highly values Russia's role in Syrian chemical weapons destruction

Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for eliminating Syrian chemical weapons programme Sigrid Kaag values highly Russia’s role in a programme of destroying chemical weapons in Syria.

Moscow, The Hague, Damascus, New York are conducting fruitful talks with Russian officials seeking to make the U.N./OPCW Joint Mission effective, the special coordinator noted,according to Voice of Russia, TASS.

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Putin thanks UN and IOC for promoting truce in Homs, Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes the truce that was announced in the Syrian city of Homs. "I am very pleased that it was today that the decision about armistice was made, that it was decided to stop the military actions for three days and to open humanitarian corridors to take out the wounded, according to Voice of Russia.

This will give the civilians, children and women a chance to leave the combat zone," Putin said speaking at the reception in his name in honor of high-ranking guests of the Olympic games.

"For this I want to thank the Olympic Committee, the United Nations, which, of course, have contributed to this decision with their appeals to the warring parties. Hopefully it will be a good tradition, but I am sure that in this case it will help to solve all the problems of a humanitarian nature," Putin stated.

Three-day ceasefire in Homs to set example for resolving other humanitarian problems in Syria - Russian FM

The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes that an agreement between the Syrian government and "opposition" on a "humanitarian pause" in the besieged city of Homs will "contribute to the creation of a favorable environment for the upcoming second round of talks between the Syrian sides, which is due to start in Geneva on February 10, and set a good example for resolving other urgent humanitarian problems," the Russian Foreign Ministry has said earlier today.

"Moscow welcomed the news from Syria about an agreed upon humanitarian pause in Homs. An agreement on ceasefire for three days and providing the old Homs' civilians with humanitarian aid became the outcome of days-long and difficult negotiations between the governor of Homs and the UN's regional humanitarian coordinator to Syria, Yacoub El Hillo. The Russian embassy in Damascus seriously contributed to the successful outcome of the talks," the Ministry noted.

"It's envisioned that all the children, women, men over 55, and the injured will be able to leave freely the combat area. A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said they will live in temporary accommodation camps and be provided with food and medical care. Those who will prefer to stay in Homs will also be provided with necessary humanitarian aid," the Ministry added.

"We emphatically urge those who have influence on separate 'opposition" groups not to politicize humanitarian problems in Syria and make actual efforts in order to alleviate problems and suffering of the Syrian people. Russia intends to consistently follow this line in its relations with all the parties of the Syrian conflict and international partners," the Russian Ministry concluded.

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Russia confirms deal on evacuation of civilians from Homs

MOSCOW- Russia confirms that the Syrian government and "opposition" have reached an agreement on evacuation of civilians from parts of Homs and delivery of humanitarian cargo, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday, according to ITAR TASS.

 “We confirm that the Syrian government and "opposition" groups blocking the ancient city of Homs have reached the agreement, under which civilians, mainly women, children and elderly people, will be evacuated and humanitarian consignments will be delivered there,” he said.

 “In many respects this deal became the result of intensive efforts taken of late by the Russian embassy and UN representatives,” Lukashevich added.

According to the available information, this deal will come into effect already early on Friday.

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Los Angeles Times: US Citizens Joining "militants" in Syria

More than 50 US citizens joined Syrian "militants" fighting in Syria, according to FNA.

Some of the US citizens, who have been trained by Al-Qaeda-linked groups and have returned back to America, are under FBI surveillance, US intelligence officials said Thursday, Al-Alam reported.

Counter-terrorism officials fear that these trained ready-to-be terrorists will try to mount terrorist attacks in US, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"It's probably one of the most significant threats we're dealing with," said a senior intelligence official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The White House and the CIA are highly concerned that Al-Qaeda linked "militants" train Americans and Europeans at camps in Syria and Iraq.

James R. Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said that there are "7,500 or so" fighters from 50 countries have been trained by Al-Qaeda, but he failed to name the exact number of US citizens, which means that the US intelligence cannot take under control alleged terrorists that come to the US, putting under the threat the national security.

Clapper, speaking at a House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday, said he was particularly worried about a small cadre of Al-Qaeda operatives who have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan and allegedly aspire to attack the United States.

He also noted, that "technologies and techniques (used by Al-Qaeda) pose particular problems to our defenses."

More than a dozen people who have returned to the US are under FBI surveillance, and even some of the returnees were ruled out as a threat, one senior official said on condition of anonymity, the LA Times reports.

Tracking Americans who fought in Syria has become an FBI priority, bureau Director James B. Comey has said.

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Russia has no doubt Syrian chemical weapons to be eliminated by July - FM

Russia does not doubt that the term for eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons will be observed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing in Moscow. He added that Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by "militants" against chemical arms depots, according to Voice of Russia.

"Despite the existing difficulties related to the withdrawal of toxic agents, there are no grounds for disputing the term - the end of June or the beginning of July 2014," the diplomat said.

Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by "militants" against chemical arms depots, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich added.

"The Syrian side reported that some of the chemical arms depots had been attacked. Fortunately, government forces managed to deter those attacks successfully," he told a press briefing in Moscow.

Moscow does not want to dramatize the somewhat slowing down of exportations of chemical weapons from Syria, Lukashevich said. He said he was confident that the deadlines could not have been met "for objective reasons."

"As known, the ground transportation of highly toxic chemicals continues amid the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and it is beset by many risks," the diplomat said.

Moscow against politicization of humanitarian problems in Syria

Attempts being made by some countries to politicize humanitarian problems have a negative impact on the dialogue between the conflicting parties in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"The attempts being made by some countries to artificially politicize humanitarian issues, including through UN Security Council forums, are absolutely unacceptable and will have the most negative effect on a dialogue between the Syrian parties, the second round of which is planned for February 10 in Geneva," Lukashevich said.

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Russia, China Cooperation on political and security issues

SOCHI, - The Russian president Vladimir Putin stressed growing cooperation between Russia and China's’ “security services and military, including those ensuring the removal of chemical weapons from Syria”., according to ITAR TASS.

 “Russia and China make a significant contribution to global development and security,” Putin said.

Russian and Chinese naval task forces participate in the international operation to dispose of Syria's chemical stockpiles for its further destruction. Russia’s missile cruiser The Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) along with a Chinese frigate, Yan Cheng, will escort other ships taking  chemical weapons out of Syria.

This kind of cooperation is the two countries’ first experience of military interaction not in the course of exercises, but in a real operation run by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that Moscow and Beijing largely contribute to assuring global development and security.

Putin said at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday that “bilateral cooperation is expanding” and the two countries have almost reached the annual turnover target of $100 billion.

Putin recalled that the current volume of trade totaled $87 billion and “it is moving closer to the planned $100 billion.” There were plans earlier to achieve this figure by 2015 and by 2020, to make turnover reach $200 billion.

“Political contacts are expanding,” Putin said. “Five high-level meetings have been scheduled for this year.”

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