Ryabkov: US Syria Policies within UNSC Illogical

 MOSCOW- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stressed that Washington's attempts to persuade the UN Security Council (UNSC) to adopt a resolution that would contain threats against Syria are illogical, according to the Voice of Russia.

 In the Russian State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's parliament, Ryabkov said on Tuesday, "the Syrian side has clearly demonstrated its goodwill to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. In this situation, the Americans' attempts, which are vigorously supported by the British and French, to push the UN Security Council toward adopting a resolution that would contain an immediate threat against Syria appear to be illogical."

Ryabkov: UN experts to return to Syria on September 25

Ryabkov said The United Nation's chemical weapons experts are expected to return to Syria on September 25.

"We are pleased that our persistent calls for the return of UN experts to Syria to investigate other instances of chemical weapons use have produced results. The latest information available indicates that Salstrom's group will leave for Damascus tomorrow, September 25," Ryabkov clarified.

Russian Foreign Ministry against UNSC Syria resolution with automatic sanctions

Ryabkov also said that any UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution should not contain automatic sanctions that might be applied should the Syrian chemical weapons disarmament deal be broken.

"A UNSC resolution ought to come as a follow-up to the appropriate decisions made by Executive Council of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). I repeat once again that adopting a UNSC resolution enforcing Article 7 of the UN Charter or automatically applying sanctions, let alone military force, is out of the question," he stressed.

The Russian diplomat pointed out that the US Congress members' refusal to meet with Russian parliamentarians, who planned to visit the United States to discuss the Syrian crisis, highlights the weakness of Washington's stance on this topic.

"The American side's failure to respond to this initiative, which was effectively blocked by it, indicates the weakness of Washington's arguments and possibly the absence of the required support within the American Congress for the US administration's plans," he said.

Pushkov: There are limits for Moscow Cooperation with the US

Russian State Duma's International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov said that Russia will not give the nod to a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria.

At an Open Rostrum roundtable in the State Duma on Tuesday, Pushkov criticized the argument that Russia can only do something real in cooperation with the leading Western states and described it as dangerous.

"Yes, we must walk this way as we did (cooperating with the leading Western states) and this tendency should be consolidated. I agree. But the cooperative spirit must have its limits. We demonstrated maximum willingness to cooperate on Libya. The result is well known: We lost absolutely everything we could there, including in terms of image," Pushkov said.

Russia has been opposing for two and a half years the adoption of a resolution that would authorize air strikes against Syria. Due to this Russia has gained much in terms of image, he said.

"We are demonstrating that we can do quite a lot," he added. "What is meant here is the resolve to pursue our own line. Yes, Russia will be cooperative with the United States as much as possible and for as long as possible. But there are limits to this," Pushkov said.

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Lavrov to attend UN General Assembly session

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to take part in the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced earlier it was expected that the search for ways to resolve the crisis in  Syria on the basis agreed earlier would continue during Lavrov's meetings with US Secretary of State John and UN peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

A trilateral meeting of Lavrov, Kerry and Brahimi could be held as well,according to Voice of Russia, Interfax.

Lavrov will have a busy time during the current UN General Assembly Session, where the Russian delegation is leading, according to Russia's Foreign Ministry.

"Besides some bilateral meetings, Lavrov will take part in a conference of the foreign ministers of BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], a session of the International Quartet on the Middle East, and a meeting of the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"There are also meetings planned with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, including in the five-party format of the permanent members of the UN Security Council," it said.

Lavrov's bilateral meetings with EU Foreign Policy Chief Baroness Catherine Ashton, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and other officials are expected to take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly session as well.

The program of the 68th session includes a number of high-level events, which will address nuclear disarmament and other pressing issues on today's international agenda, the ministry said.

 

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UN sees 'opportunity for Syria diplomacy'

The UN's undersecretary general for political affairs has said there is a fresh opportunity for a political, diplomatic approach to the crisis in Syria, now that Damascus has acknowledged it has chemical weapons and agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In an interview with the BBC's Kim Ghattas, Jeffrey Feltman also suggested that Tehran would have to play a role.

"It's very hard for us to imagine a political solution for Syria that works, that doesn't somehow have Iran as part of the conversation", he said.

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CSTO opposes military action as a way to settle crisis in Syria – Putin

 The Collective Security Treaty Organization’s members have passed a statement on the situation in Syria at the summit in Sochi. They underlined the necessity of peaceful settlement and unacceptability of the outside aggression, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said, reports VoR's Polina Chernitsa.

 “The CSTO countries are unanimous in their opinion that the situation in Syria should be settled peacefully and any outside military action would be a severe violation of international law or as the UN charter calls it – aggression,” the Russian leader stressed.

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China, Russia Lawmakers Urge Geneva Conference on Syria

Russian and Chinese parliaments have called to speed up the long-overdue conference on Syria’s peace. Parliamentary foreign policy assemblies released a joint statement today denouncing any possibility of a foreign interference in the conflict in Syria, according to Itar Tass.

On Monday, Russian upper-house Speaker Mikhail Margelov reported that a delegation of China’s National Assembly representatives had met Russian lawmakers of the country’s Federal Assembly.

Chinese and Russian MPs said in the statement, which was unveiled on the heels of the gathering, they hoped for sooner peace talks on Syria, stressing they were open for a compromise that would put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and stave off other dramatic conflicts in the region.

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Lavrov: CSTO Supports International Efforts to Settle Crisis in Syria

 

MOSCOW-Moscow expects the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to support international efforts towards a peaceful settlement in Syria, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to the Voice of Russia.

"We are worried about the Syrian situation both because of the negative implications for the entire region and the negative consequences for the international legal system. As you know, there is a need for the soonest possible solution of challenges with regard to dialogue and the problem of chemical weapons. I think we should actively support international efforts concerning Syria today," he said at the opening ceremony of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers' session on Monday.

China's FM: International Community Should Reach Consensus on the Issue of Chemical Weapons in Syria as Soon as Possible

In New York, Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has said China is willing to send experts to join the process of inspecting and destroying chemical weapons in Syria.

According to China Central Television (CCTV), the remark was made during the talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Syria at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

During their meeting, Wang said China supports the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to carry out its work in an objective, fair and professional manner. Wang said at present it is important for the international community to reach consensus on the issue as soon as possible, to send out a message of unity.

He has also stressed that the attainment of a political settlement for the ongoing crisis in Syria should be advanced at the same time.

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Lavrov: US pressuring Russia into passing UN resolution on Syria allowing military force

The US is pushing Russia into approving a UN resolution that would allow for military intervention in Syria, in exchange for American support of Syria’s accession to OPCW, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“Our American partners are starting to blackmail us: ‘If Russia does not support a resolution under Chapter 7, then we will withdraw our support for Syria’s entry into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This is a complete departure from what I agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry',” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Channel 1's Sunday Time program.

Chapter 7 of the UN charter would allow for potential military intervention in Syria.

Western countries blinded by 'Syrian leadership  must go' attitude

The head of Russia’s Foreign Ministry went on to say he was surprised by the West’s “negligent” approach to the conflict.

“Our partners are blinded by an ideological mission for "regime" change,” said Lavrov. “They cannot admit they have made another mistake.”

Slamming the West’s intervention in Libya and Iraq, the foreign minister stated that military intervention could only lead to a catastrophe in the region. Moreover, he stressed that if the West really was interested in a peaceful solution to the conflict that has raged for over two years, they would now be pushing for Syria’s entry into the OPCW in the first place, not for the ouster of the Syrian leadership.

 “I am convinced that the West is doing this to demonstrate that they call the shots in the Middle East. This is a totally politicized approach,” said Lavrov.

The Russian foreign minister pointed out that in the case of a military scenario, "militants" would come to power and Syria would no longer be a secular state. Up to three quarters “of these guys are "Jihadists",” including the most radical groups such as "Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant", who want to create a "Caliphate" in Syria and in neighboring territories, Lavrov said.

 “If our western partners think at least two steps ahead, they cannot but understand it,” Lavrov noted.

As to why the West would want that, Moscow has so far received no clear answer, but hears “mantras” on the necessity to promote democracy and protect human rights, said the minister. That is important, but “responsible politicians should be guided not only by that. Not to care about stability in a key world region is absolutely irresponsible,” he added.

 

According to Lavrov, some experts alleged that “someone is attempting to create a guided chaos” in the region for their own benefits. However, the foreign minister said he personally sees no possible advantages that Western countries would gain if they were behind moves to stir up instability.

“There’s only an attempt to grasp a straw, and turn a blind eye to the fact that the world is changing and becoming multipolar,” Lavrov concluded.

'A repeat of Geneva 2012'

Lavrov harked back to last year’s Geneva accord which was agreed upon by the international community, including Russia and the US. However, when the resolution went to the Security Council the US demanded that Chapter 7 be included.

 “History is repeating itself. Once again in Geneva an agreement has been reached which does not contain any mention of Chapter 7. But the Security Council wants to redo the document in their own way to include it.”

He called on the West to observe international law and stop writing resolutions motivated by their “geopolitical ambitions.”

Both sides must hand over chemical weapons

Sergey Lavrov has also insisted that "opposition forces" take part in the decommissioning of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

 “The solutions currently being worked out at the OPCW suggest that all stocks of Syrian chemical weapons must be brought under control and ultimately destroyed.”

Lavrov further charged that the West was “not telling the whole story” by asserting that chemical weapons are only possessed by the Syrian government, and not the "opposition".

He added that the available information provided by the Israelis confirmed that on at least two occasions, the "rebels "had seized areas in which chemical weapons were stored and those arms might have fallen into their hands.

"According to our estimates, there is a strong probability that in addition to home-grown labs in which "militants" are trying to cook up harmful and deadly concoctions, the data provided by the Israelis is true,” the Russian FM said.

 “Preparatory work for OPCW inspectors to assume control of chemical weapons storage sites requires that those who fund and sponsor opposition groups –  including extremists –  demand that they hand over the [arms] which have been seized so that they can be destroyed, pursuant to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

Lavrov added that Russia was not a guarantor for the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons, as Syria’s commitments fell under the auspices of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is internationally administered by the OPCW.

 

Lavrov said Russia and the US were working out a draft resolution to be submitted to the OPCW, although several points were yet to be agreed upon.

Earlier in September, Moscow said it would submit data to the UNSC proving that the chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb were used by the "rebels".  These “purely technical” documents were handed over to Russia by the Syrian  government and are being examined by Russian specialists. This data “is an addition to what we already know and to what is known to…independent experts who give their assessments and confirm that the opposition regularly resort to provocations, attempting to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons” and this way get foreign military support, Lavrov said.

A UN experts team, who investigated the August 21 attack in Syria, presented a report on their findings, in which they described the ammunition and substances they discovered on the scene, but made no conclusions regarding who was behind the incident.

However, the US, along with Britain and France, moved quickly to repeat their accusations against the Syrian government.  “Such an approach is neither scientific, nor professional but rather politicized and ideology-driven,” the Russian foreign minister stressed.

According to Lavrov, it was no secret that they did not need any report. Long before the document was prepared, they stated that they already knew everything from their intelligence findings – which have never been presented to the public in full, the Russian minister noted.

 “What they did show to us does not convince that the [Syrian] government is linked to the episode with the use of chemical weapons,” Lavrov said.

He reiterated that there is also evidence by eyewitnesses, including nuns from the Christian monastery close to the scene of the deadly attack, and journalists who visited the area. Reporters, Lavrov said, talked to "militants" who told them that they “received from abroad munitions that they had never seen before and did not know how to use them, but they used them in the end.” There was also an open letter by the Pentagon and CIA veterans to President Obama, where they say that the "rebels" could have used chemical weapons.

Moscow expects the UN experts to go back to Syria to finish their investigation there, which should include three other incidents later in August when the Syrian army was attacked with poisonous gas, Lavrov said.

Logistics of destruction

Sergey Lavrov said that the time frame for the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons was not unrealistic.

"The overwhelming majority of the figures as per timing, term, beginning, finishing of the mission have been suggested by the American side," he added.

Even if the time frame is feasible, there remains disagreement on the cost of the venture.

 

Earlier this week, President  Bashar Al-Assad said the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal would be a costly venture.

 “It needs a lot of money, it needs about one billion [US dollars]. It’s very detrimental to the environment. If the American administration is ready to pay the money, and to take responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don’t they do it?” President Bashar Al-Assad told Fox News

Lavrov said he had heard of the cost estimate, although during his negotiations with his US counterpart in Geneva last week, the figure was much lower. Lavrov said the discrepancy stemmed from the fact that a professional estimate was in order.

 “When OPCW experts visit Syria and view the storage sites for chemical weapons, they will understand what can be destroyed on the spot (and this is also possible) with the use of mobile equipment which a number of states have, and those where special factories need to be built, as we did when destroying Soviet chemical weapons stockpiles. But for those which need to be taken out of the country – toxic substances – will require a special decision, because the convention considers it essential that the destruction takes place on the territory of that country which possesses the chemical weapons,” he said.

Lavrov said legal grounds would need to be found to move forward in this case, but if all sides could agree in principle, then drawing up a legally binding document will not be hard.

He further noted the difficulties that would be faced in assuring the security of both the Syrian and international experts tasked with bringing the chemical weapons under control and laying the groundwork for their ultimate destruction.

 “We’ve considered that an international presence will be demanded in those areas where experts are working. We are prepared to allocate our own servicemen or military police to take part in those efforts. I do not believe it is necessary to send in a strong [military] contingency.] It seems to me that it will be sufficient to send in military observers. It will be necessary to do it in such a way that the observers will come from all permanent members of the UN Security Council, Arab states and Turkey, so that all "conflicting sides" in Syria understand that this contingent represents all external forces who are "collaborating with one or the other conflicting sides" in Syria…so that they don’t resort to provocations,” he said.

Lavrov reiterated previous statements made during his negotiations with Secretary of State John Kerry following their talks in Geneva last week that the "opposition" was equally responsible for providing for the safety of OPCW and UN experts in the country and not allowing for any “provocations.”

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A mortar shell hits territory of Russian embassy ,no injured

DAMASCUS,(ST)-A mortar shell has landed at the Russian embassy territory in Damascus , no injury has been reported, a source at the embassy told local media.

The source added that the embassy works normally.

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