MOSCOW, January 21 (Sputnik) – The main point in settling the Syrian crisis is the struggle against the Islamic State (IS) and not ousting current President Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“The main thing is the growing conviction, including in the West, that the political process [in Syria] is unavoidable and that it’s especially important that the number one current task is the fight against the Islamic State,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Moscow.
Lavrov reiterated Russia's stance that the uprooting of terrorism and not allowing Syria to turn into a terrorist state is "immeasurably a more important task than overthrowing a regime and creating a new organ just to be able to say that Assad has left."
The Russian foreign minister also touched on US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, noting a shift in Washington's strategy on defeating the IS.
"Returning to President Obama’s speech Tuesday, a part regarding a purpose of the fight against Islamic State was formulated in a different way. The goal of defeating these terrorists was named the most important among everything else that concerns overcoming the Syrian crisis," Lavrov said, adding that it is important to ensure statements made lead to practical steps.
Civil war between forces loyal to the Syrian government and various rebel groups, including Islamic extremists, has killed over 200,000 people since it began in 2011, according to UN estimates. IS jihadists have seized vast areas across Iraq and neighboring Syria, proclaiming a caliphate "state" in June 2014. Later the same year, the US-led coalition started launching airstrikes against IS targets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is giving an annual press conference to sum up the results of Russia’s diplomatic work in 2014. The conference started at 11 a.m. Moscow time and is held at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s conference hall. More than 370 journalists, including three journalists from Ukraine, were accredited. The conference was broadcasted online in Russian, English and French on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Lavrov is going to focus on the situation in eastern Ukraine and discussed a plan on peaceful settlement of the crisis, US-Russian relations and fighting against terrorism.
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