Minister: Russia, US Have Constant Contacts on Syria

Russia and the United States continue contacts on Syrian issue on a 24-hour basis, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on May 24.

“We did not stop contacts with the U.S. on cooperation. It happens around the clock. We meet at different venues,” Shoigu said during the “government hour” in the Federation Council.

He added that Russia expects the provisions on the security corridors in de-escalation zones to be approved in the course of the meeting scheduled for June in Astana.

“We hope that at the beginning of June there will be another meeting in Astana, where we will be able to approve all the provisions of the map on creating security corridors, which, according to our proposals, should be a kilometer long between the parties,” he said.

Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum on creating four zones at talks involving the Syrian government and opposition groups at the latest round of Astana talks.

The minister further voiced hope that the sides will actively work on the provisions of the new Syrian constitution, both in the format of negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland and in Astana, Kazakhstan.

“We would like to see mechanisms for the adoption of a new constitution, in addition to the constitution itself being discussed there, because new mechanisms for the selection of parliament and the leadership of Syria are envisaged there,” he added.

In addition, Russia is actively working with Jordan and Israel in this direction, according to Shoigu.

“We are working with Jordan on a regular basis, we are working, I will not hide, with Israel, we are discussing this issue with the Israeli Defense Minister, and we have a very constructive dialogue. I think we have every opportunity to turn it into active beginning of the political dialogue,” he concluded.

First practical result of the sixth round of talks in Geneva on ending Syrian conflict became the agreement to set up expert committees to discuss “constitutional and legal issues.”

The civil war in Syria between government and opposition with various terrorist groups involved, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), began back in March 2011.

Syrian President Bashar Assad managed to turn the tide of war in his favor after Russia started an air campaign in September 2015, while Iran is an uncompromising supporter of the Syrian leader.

According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.





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