No 'artificial deadlines' for Syria peace process: Russia

AFP , Friday 23 Nov 2018

Russia does not want any "artificial deadlines" for the Syrian peace process, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, saying those who do want to sabotage Russian-backed peace efforts.

"I don't believe in artificial deadlines," Lavrov told the MED Dialogues conference in Rome.

"Those who insist on (UN envoy) Staffan (de Mistura) setting a deadline, they want only one thing, to ruin the Astana process and come back to some regime change logic."

The next round of talks on Syria's conflict is to held in the Kazakh capital Astana on November 28-29 as part of a peace process set up in early 2017 by Russia and Iran, who support President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, and opposition backer Turkey.

The Astana process was launched after Russia's military intervention in Syria tipped the balance in the regime's favour. It has gradually eclipsed an earlier UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process.

More than 360,000 people have been killed in the war, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against Assad but has morphed into a complex conflict with myriad armed groups, many of whom are foreign-backed.

Asked about Moscow's support for Assad's authoritarian regime which "massacres" its own people, Lavrov insisted Russia does not back any individual and that it is up to the Syrian people to change regime or not, via elections.

Lavrov said it was necessary to protect human rights and that the right to life is also fundamental, pointing to civilian deaths from Western military interventions in Libya or Iraq.

"If you don't give a damn about stability or life, then I am afraid you are one-sided," he said.

"Ask the Libyans how they used to live" before the NATO-backed toppling of strongman Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, Lavrov said.

Short link: