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Lavrov expects close work with US on Syria terror
February 13, 2017, 2:43 pm

Lavrov said that all efforts must be exerted by all parties in Syria to destroy the Islamic State [Xinhua]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he expects closer cooperation with the US to destroy terror groups in Syria.

“It is precisely from the anti-terror position that we expect to establish close interaction on Syria – much more effective with the administration of [US President] Donald Trump, considering his absolutely definite approaches to terrorism as an absolute evil,” Lavrov told the Russian news agency TASS on Monday.

Moscow and Washington had pledged to cooperate and share intelligence targeting Islamist extremist groups like the Islamic State in Syria during the administration of former President Barack Obama.

However, that was a rocky road as Washington accused Russia of war crimes in Syria at the end of 2016 leading to a chill in ties between the two powers.

A few days after Trump took office, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said that the administration was willing to work with Russia to combat the Islamic State.

In January, Russian media said that the US had shared intelligence which was used by the air force to carry out raids against Islamic State positions.

While the Pentagon denied other reports that Russian and Coalition fighter bombers had flown sorties together, Turkey – America’s NATO ally – confirmed that its aircraft worked with the Russian air force to hit terrorist sites.

Meanwhile, Moscow announced on Monday that it hoped Washington would dispatch representatives to attend as observers a new round of peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The new round will examine creating a mechanism to ensure that the December 29 nation-wide Syria ceasefire continues with constant monitoring for violations.

The meeting is a follow up to last month’s Astana peace talks and falls about a week before scheduled more comprehensive negotiations in UN-sponsored meetings in Geneva.

“The processes that are unfolding in Syria involve many participants: the Syrian parties, Russia’s air force, Hezbollah which is supported by Iran, the U.S.-led coalition,” Lavrov said.

He said it is vitally important for the armed opposition to attend the talks to voice their position.

Lavrov said three weeks ago that Russian defense officials had met with representatives of the armed Syrian opposition and urged them to join forces with the Damascus government to destroy the Islamic State.

The upcoming Astana talks on February 15 are again sponsored by Iran, Russia and Turkey.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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