Lavrov: Authors of UN Resolution on Syria Try to Poison Atmosphere at Geneva Talks

MOSCOW- Authors of the resolution debated at the UN Security Council on chemical attacks in Syria pursued a goal to poison the atmosphere of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday according to Itar Tass.

"Without any prior negotiating procedure, the resolution was hurriedly submitted for voting at the UN Security Council," Lavrov said. "First, this was done with full understanding that the resolution would be vetoed. It means the co-authors wanted the Security Council to split up. Second, it was done at the very moment when the intra-Syrian talks, which we had been expecting so long, were relaunched in Geneva."

"The aim was not just divide the UN Security Council but to poison the atmosphere of intra-Syrian talks," he said.

"Any suspicion (that chemical weapons are used - TASS) should be assessed thoroughly and, above all, impartially," Lavrov said. "That is what we have proposed should be done."

Moscow calls for "the most comprehensive investigation into any accidents related to possible use of chemical weapons," Lavrov said.

Recapture of Palmyra Symbolizes Syria’s Liberation From Terror

MOSCOW- Liberation of Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra from terrorists has a symbolical meaning as it represents the state’s liberation and return to a normal life, Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, said Thursday, according to Sputnik.

 Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed in a report to President Vladimir Putin that the Syrian army had regained control over Palmyra with support of the Russian aircraft operating in Syria.

French-Swiss Company Admits Funding Terrorist Groups in Syria

PARIS- French-Swiss construction company LafargeHolcim Group has admitted funding militants in Syria. The company said it had funded the militants in order to ensure the security of its employees at a plant in north-eastern Syria, according to Le Monde newspaper.

"It appears from the [internal] investigation that the local company provided funds to third parties to work out arrangements with a number of armed groups in order to maintain operations and ensure safe passage of employees and supplies to and from the plant. The investigation could not establish with certainty the ultimate recipients of funds beyond those third parties engaged," the company said in a press release.

Russian Diplomat Doubts Syrian "opposition" Ready for Geneva Talks

MOSCOW- The Syrian opposition’s readiness to reach agreements at the Geneva talks is questionable, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, according to Itar Tass.

"We regret to say that after the first two days of the intra-Syrian talks, the Syrian opposition’s readiness to reach agreements at the Geneva talks is still questionable," she said. "The so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), based in Riyadh, has been refusing from communicating with the Moscow and the Cairo opposition groups on equal footing. In fact, it has been disrupting a full-fledged dialogue with other opposition groups as well as with the Syrian government delegation."

Any Sanctions against Syria to Weaken Anti-Terrorist Front: Russia

MOSCOW-  Any unilateral or multilateral sanctions against Damascus will only make the international anti-terrorist front weaker, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

On February 28, the UN Security Council member-countries voted on the draft resolution on imposing sanctions against Syria under Chapter VII of the UN Charter submitted by the UK, France and the United States. Russia and China vetoed the document. Bolivia voted against it, while Egypt, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia abstained.

"The fight against ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria should be imperative for everyone. Any unilateral or multilateral sanctions against Damascus will only weaken the international anti-terrorist front," the ministry said, according to Itar Tass.

Lavrov Expects Geneva Talks on Syria to Be Successful

MOSCOW - Moscow hopes that the Geneva talks on settling the crisis in Syria will not be disrupted, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

According to him, the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 is the main topic of the Geneva talks. "I don’t think that the agenda of the Geneva talks needs further consideration. The agenda has been outlined by the decisions of the UN Security Council,  first and foremost, by the Resolution 2254," he added.

Iran, EU Hold Seminar to Enhance Nuclear Cooperation

More than a year into the implementation of a landmark deal on the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran and the European Union are holding a high-level seminar with the aim of promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of atomic energy, according to Press T.V.

The event, titled “International Nuclear Cooperation: Expectations and Responsibilities,” kicked off in Brussels on Tuesday, with senior European and Iranian officials in attendance.

Joint efforts by European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete and Iranian Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi have helped bring about the seminar.

Russia Says "No" to Arms Race, "Yes" to Security amid US Military Spending Plans

Moscow will not participate in an arms race but will take sufficient steps to protect itself, Russia's upper house speaker said amid Donald Trump's plans to step up military spending.

MOSCOW - Russia will not to be drawn into an arms race but will take sufficient measures to strengthen its national security, Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, said Wednesday in a comment on the US administration's plans to increase defense spending.

"Russia will not be drawn into an arms race, we will analyze [the situation] and take measures sufficient to ensure national security," Matvienko said.