09:54 GMT23 October 2020
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    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the situation in Syria, upcoming Kerry's visit to Russia, as well as Latvia hindering work of Russian reporters during her weekly press briefing in Moscow.

    Foreign Ministry Agenda

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the upcoming visit to Russia by US State Secretary John Kerry next week.

    She said that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the situation in Syria and in the Middle East with his US counterpart.

    According to Zakharova, the exact date of Kerry's visit has not been determined yet.

    Situation in Syria

    The spokeswoman said, commenting on the Syria peace talks in Geneva, that Syrian territorial integrity remains one of the priorities of the Russian foreign policy.

    "While being in contacts with international and regional partners, we encourage them to do utmost to contribute to the success of the Geneva talks. As we have already said, another chance to achieve peace and stability in Syria may not appear in the foreseeable future."

    The comment comes as the Kurds have announced the creation of a federal region in northern Syria.

    She added that Kurds' participation in the Syrian peace talks was crucial for the peace process in the war-torn country.

    "The opposition’s representation at the talks should be complete, including the Kurdish forces, acting in the forefront of the fight against the terrorists."

    Zakharova slammed "those who had compared" the Russian air campaign in Syria with the Soviet operation in Afghanistan as Russia has started to partially withdraw its forces from the Arab Republic.

    According to the spokeswoman, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogheniri, US President Barack Obama, as well as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have compared Russian involvement in Syria with Soviet military operation in Afghanistan.

    "Russia has proved that its aims in Syria are transparent," Zakharova emphasized.

    On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to start withdrawing the Russian Aerospace Forces from Syria on Tuesday as it completed the assigned tasks. The withdrawal occurred on the same day as proximity talks between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a number of Syrian opposition groups began in Geneva.

    Moscow views Syria as an integral, secular, democratic state, however, it is up to Syrians to decide the fate of their country, Zakharova said.

    Zakharova added that foreign states' calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad's "immediate resignation" is "illegal."

    Turkey's Crackdown on Kurds

    Moscow yet again expressed concern on Kurds amid Turkey's operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    Zakharova emphasized that civilians are also being victims of the so-called anti-terror operation conducted by Ankara in the south of Turkey.

    Moscow noted that the solution to the issue could be only political.

    Violence in Turkey escalated in mid-2015, when the Turkish government launched a military campaign against the PKK, which is considered to be a terrorist organization in the country.

    Moscow Slams Latvia Over Hindering Russian Reporters' Work

    Moscow commented on Latvia over hindering the work of Russian journalists in the country.

    The spokeswoman called on the OSCE media freedom representative to take into account Latvia's stance toward journalists.

    Zakharova said that former RT stringer Graham Philips was arrested at the SS legionaries' annual march in Riga, an increasingly contentious effect criticized by both governments and anti-Nazism activists.

    Philips attempted to head the column of Nazi veterans and their supporters, but was taken out of the rally by police and arrested. Phillips, a former RT stringer became an independent journalist during the Donbass conflict, conducting many unique interviews and making rare footage of everyday life among Donbass militia.

    She added that the work of Russian media outlets in foreign countries has been repeatedly hindered, adding that this is "part of the information warfare."

    Iran's Alleged Involvement in 9/11

    Moscow slammed New York City jidge ruling urging Iran to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to the families of those killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    Last week, US District Judge George Daniels ruled on Wednesday that Tehran must pay $7.5 billion to the families of people who died at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Daniels also awarded $3 billion to a group of insurers that paid property damage, business interruption and other claims.

    Earlier, Hossein Sheikholeslam, a senior aide to Iran’s parliamentary speaker outlined Tehran’s position on the issue in an interview with Sputnik Persian. According to him, the investigation was partly secret but, judging by what was made public, the main suspect was Saudi Arabia, not Iran since all the masterminds were either Saudi nationals or lived and studied in Saudi Arabia.

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    press briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, Iran, Turkey, Latvia, Syria, Moscow, Russia
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