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    General view of the Syrian government delegation the start of a meeting between UN Special Envoy for Syria and Syria's government delegation during Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland March 25, 2017

    West Uses Geneva Talks as 'Political Umbrella' for Terrorists - Assad

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    The West and its allies use the Geneva process as a "political umbrella" for terrorist groups, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik.

    DAMASCUS, April 21 (Sputnik) — Assad added that the platform is "still-born" because of its delays.

    "First of all, our estimation of Geneva is that it hasn't started yet; till this moment, nothing, it's a still-born, it's dead," Assad said.

    He contrasted Geneva to the Astana process promoted by Russia and Iran, the countries he described as "willing to achieve a peaceful solution" with respect to Syrian sovereignty, the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions.

    "If you look at the other party, the Western bloc with their allies in the region and their proxies, of course, they are in the other side. They are using these events only as a political umbrella for the terrorists, not for the political solution," Assad said.

    The Syrian conflict has been discussed at parallel talks in the Swiss city of Geneva and the Kazakh capital of Astana.

    The fifth round of the UN-mediated Geneva negotiations on Syrian reconciliation concluded on March 31 without a breakthrough.

    Astana provides a separate platform for Syrian peace talks, with three rounds of negotiations since the beginning of the year. On January 23-24, Russian experts presented the draft Syrian constitution to the parties of the Syrian conflict during the talks in Astana that took place.

    The Syrian government is ready to hold talks with any party that can "stop the killing," making the Astana negotiating process involving militant leaders more viable, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik.

    "We are very pragmatic in that regard; we say let's sit with whoever can change the situation in two ways. The first one is to stop the killing, this is number one, this is a priority for every Syrian," Assad said.

    The political and economic agenda in negotiations is placed on the back burner in favor achieving stability, he specified.

    "That's why I said, we went directly to talk to the militants [in Astana], that is not our preference, as your question, but it's the most effective in the meantime," Assad said.

    Assad added that Damascus supports Kazakhstan’s proposal to expand the number of participants in the Astana talks on Syria.

    "I think the more countries you have, the better," Assad said when asked what he thought of Kazakhstan’s initiative.

    He clarified that some countries supported the Astana talks and "that will protect that initiative and raise the possibility of success." Some countries "are going to oppose it whether they are part of it or outside."

    "But if they are part of it, you can point at them, you can tell them that you're part of the problem and you have to help, and if you are genuine about helping, not only by your discourse and rhetoric, this is the initiative, be part of it and show us that you are against the terrorism, show us that you support what the Syrian people want. So, in both ways, it's positive to invite whoever wants to come. So, I support what the Kazakhstani officials announced … about expanding the participation in Astana," the president said.

    Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said Thursday that it was critically important for the country to increase the number of observers of Astana process on Syrian reconciliation with the issue being actively discussed with guarantor states.

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    Tags:
    Astana talks on Syria, Geneva 3 Peace Talks, United Nations, Bashar al-Assad, Syria
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