Kerry, Lavrov: ‘Close’ on Syrian Peace Agreement

Posted: August 27, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart US Secretary of State John Kerry said they are “close” to a Syrian peace agreement, but still have differences to work through.
“I want to thank Foreign Minister Lavrov for joining me today…for what I would call a long but productive and constructive discussion,” Kerry told reporters.
“We literally stand on the brink of the Syrian regime and opposition parties going back to a state of all-out war, so needless to say the situation has dramatically deteriorated since the brief oasis of calm that followed the launch of the cessation of hostilities in February,” he said.
While Kerry touted that humanitarian aid has been delivered to over one million people as a result of previous negotiations, he said that ceasefire violations have become the “norm” and “the conflict will not end without a political solution.”
“We are close, but as I have said…we’re not going to rush to an agreement until it meets fully the needs of the Syrian people.”
Lavrov pointed that out all sides in the Syrian conflict bear responsibility for ceasefire violations, but expressed similar optimism that a peace agreement is close, with only a few differences left to iron out.
Critically, Lavrov stressed the need of the opposition side in Syria to distance itself from terrorist organizations.
“Without separating the sane forces in Syria from terrorists, I just do not see a solution for ending hostilities in this country,” Lavrov said.
On the role of Kurdish forces in the conflict, Kerry said that the US intends to continue working with them, but does not support the creation of an independent Kurdish state.
Lavrov added that both Moscow and Washington agree that the Kurds must have an equal voice in the peace process.
Both sides will continue to negotiate terms over the next few days.
While discussions primarily focused on Syria, the conflict in Ukraine was also addressed. Lavrov said Moscow appreciates Washington’s help in implementing the Minsk agreement.
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