"The principle difference of our position is that the help and assistance in the creation of conditions for accepting refugees and in the rebuilding of Syria should be provided beyond any political considerations. We are against linking this issue with political considerations and we have specifically stated this […] We have expressed our regret that the Syrian government has not been invited to this conference in Brussels; [this happens] not for the first time", Vershinin told reporters after attending the UN-sponsored Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.
"This may be considered nothing short of the violation of basic rights, including those of humanitarian assistance, which must be carried out in close coordination with the side that is receiving this assistance, which is the Syrian legitimate government in this case", the diplomat explained.
Apart from being one of the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, Russia also assists Damascus in the postwar reconstruction of the country and the repatriation of refugees, and makes efforts to help ensure the settlement of the conflict in Syria at various international platforms.
The next Astana meeting on Syria has been tentatively planned for April on the level of deputy ministers, Vershinin said, adding that the specific dates of the talks were subject to further coordination among the participants.
Vershinin also said he had discussed the ways the Astana format talks on the Syrian reconciliation could be useful for advancing the Geneva consultations on Syria with UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen in Brussels.
"Today, we have discussed, including during the detailed consultations with the UN secretary-general's special representative, Pedersen, the issues of Syrian settlement, from humanitarian support to the political process; the ways the Astana format could be useful in terms of advancing the talks and consultations in Geneva", Vershinin told reporters.
Vershinin also noted progress in the process of forming the Syrian constitutional committee, stressing it could be completed in the near future.
"I also met with US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey and with a number of delegations; all of them underlined the need for the soonest launch of such a constitutional committee and completing its formation", the Russian diplomat pointed out.
Since 2011, Syria has been struggling with conflict, which left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance, many of them displaced. Since the Syrian government has taken back the territory previously held by terrorists, the focus has shifted toward the rebuilding and return of refugees.