18:21 GMT +305 December 2019
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    Russian Foreign Affairs' Minister Sergei Lavrov's meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

    'Russia’s Influence in Syria' Making US Search for 'Compromise’

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    Russia's involvement in Syria has changed the rules of the game, Reda Shehata, former assistant of the Egyptian foreign minister, said. According to him, now the US understands that the settlement should involve all parties, including the Syrian government.

    "Russia’s increased political and military influence in Syria is making the United States search for compromises in the Syrian settlement," Shehata said.

    Shehata commented on the Friday meeting in Geneva between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

    The talks lasted for 12 hours. As a result of the meeting, Kerry and Lavrov said that progress was made but some technical issues would be discussed later.

    "We made several very important steps following the agreements we achieved earlier, in Moscow," Lavrov told journalists.

    The ministers discussed a broad number of issues concerning the Syrian crisis, including fighting terrorists in Syria, the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, the Turkish operation in Jarablus, and steps to end the war.

    "Russia’s military and political involvement in Syria was the key factor. Russia changed the rules of the game. The US now understands that the settlement requires the involvement of all parties to the conflict, including opposition groups and the Syrian government. All parties should define the future of Syria. But there should be no terrorists and extremists among the opposition," Shehata said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

    According to Shehata, Russia and the US have a common goal in Syria – to fight terrorism.

    "The terrorist threat in the Middle East unites Russian and American politicians," he pointed out.

    During the meeting, Sergei Lavrov once again stressed the need to draw a line between Syrian rebel forces and al-Nusra Front (now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) militants.

    "Technically, it is very hard to imagine," Yuri Barmin, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, told Gazeta.ru.

    Alexander Aksenenok, senior research fellow at the Institute for Eastern Studies, told Lenta.ru that Moscow is afraid that Washington may undermine the separation between opposition and terrorist forces. Thus, the US would try to save the al-Nusra Front from total defeat.

    A source in the Russian delegation partially confirmed the assumption, adding that the US may use terrorists to pressure the Syrian government after Daesh is defeated.

    After the talks, Lavrov and Kerry underscored that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved militarily and political ways are needed to end the war. A political solution is possible only when Russia and the US agree on the main issues.

    "It’s not easy. We’re trying to deal with misunderstandings and reduce distrust," Lavrov said.

    In turn, Kerry said that Moscow and Washington have different views of the reasons behind the contradictions but they are trying to resolve them together.

    "It was the US and Russia who introduced a ceasefire regime in Syria. And only Washington and Moscow can change the situation in Aleppo and stop the bloodshed," Aksenenok said.

    Shehata suggested that the Syrian crisis is going to enter a new stage.

    "We hope that this new chapter will be the last before a final agreement to resolve the crisis. This agreement should restore Syria’s role in the region and take into account the interests of Russia and the US," he pointed out. 


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    terrorism, military conflict, talks, Al-Nusra Front, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, Syria, United States, Russia
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