Russia: All Talks Participants Agreed Syrians Must Decide Own Future

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) reacts next to Russia's Ambassador to the U.N. Alexey Borodavkin after a round of Syria talks at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

MOSCOW, Oct 16 – Russia said all participants in talks in Lausanne had agreed Syrians should decide their own future through inclusive dialogue and that the country should remain whole and secular, after the meeting ended without a breakthrough.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that in order for a U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement to succeed and to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries, Syria’s moderate opposition must separate from Jabhat Fatah al Sham, previously known as the Nusra Front, and other “terrorist groups” affiliated with it.

“At the same time, it should be understood that operations against terrorists of Daesh and the Nusra Front will be continued,” the ministry said.

Saturday’s talks, convened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Swiss city, failed to agree on a common strategy with Russia to end the conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year.

Kerry hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region – from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt – weeks after the collapse of a painstakingly crafted U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan that many saw as the last hope for peace this year.

Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations in Syria’s largest city Aleppo, as well as targeting an aid convoy with the loss of around 20 lives. Syria and Russia say they are only targeting militants.

Europe was not represented at the Lausanne meeting. But France’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Kerry and foreign ministers of like-minded nations planned to meet in London on Sunday to discuss Syria.

A source in the German Foreign Ministry said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to Kerry on Sunday about the results of talks in Lausanne as well as the next steps that need to be taken.

The source said both ministers agreed that despite the tough initial situation, every effort must continue to be made to bring about a new humanitarian ceasefire, to get aid supplies safely to eastern Aleppo and to create the conditions for a new ceasefire.

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