USA presence in Astana meeting on Syrian conflict ‘would be useful’, Russian foreign minister Lavrov

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said on Monday, the United States (US) participation in a meeting in Astana, talks aimed at Syria, would be useful.

According to Sputnik news reports, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow: “As you know, we regularly invited representatives of the United States to such meetings as observers. They initially took part, then they decided to leave these invitations unanswered. Although I am sure that [US participation] would certainly be useful.”

Earlier, the official has said the upcoming meeting on Syria in Asthana would take place in mid-February. While commenting over the presence of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) in Syria’s province of Idlib, Lavrov said it has violated the Russian-Turkish governments’ agreement on security in the region.

After his talks with his counterpart Beibut Atamkulov, Lavrov said: “A terrorist nest that is still in Idlib is a fact, and our Syrian colleagues have confirmed their readiness to eliminate this terrorist hotspot. We are ready to continue acting as set out in the Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib, including the establishment of a demilitarized zone around the security zone. But the fact that Nusra and its reincarnation, Tahrir al-Sham (banned in Russia), have, in fact, taken over a large portion of the territory there, of course, does not correspond to the agreements that were reached on the security issues of Idlib.”

He added that Turkey was undergoing operations with the Russian military forces to try to resolve the matter. He claimed that Russia believed it was possible for Syria and Turkey to rely on the 1998 Adana agreement ensuring the security of the common border.

While commenting over the situation in northwest Syria after the US President Donald Trump’s announcement of his decision to withdraw American troops from Syrian region,  at talks in Astana, Lavrov said, “We believe it is possible for Turkey and Syria to use the so-called Adana agreement of 1998. As I understand it, the Syrian government has also made a statement the other day indicating readiness to work on the basis of this agreement to ensure border security.”

On Wednesday, at a joint press conference with Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Moscow and Ankara would continue to cooperate in Idlib, where above ten different militant groups operates along with Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization.

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