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Turkey has not abandoned idea of trans-border strikes on Syria — Russian Foreign Ministry

Turkey's activity on the border with Syria can be a delayed-action mine under the ceasefire agreements, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Monday.

"The Turkish colleagues have not abandoned the idea of trans-border strikes, an idea to form certain zones on the Syrian territory along the Turkish border," he said, noting that it is "a very dangerous situation from the point of view of how Ankara can behave".

'We saw in the past examples when those who were making decisions in Turkey, got emotional in fact. If the period of strengthening the ceasefire regime proceeds now in the same way, it can become a mine, not even of delayed but of instantaneous action ," the diplomat said.

"I would want to warn the Turkish colleagues against this," he added.

Iran plays positive role in Syrian settlement

Moscow considers Iran's role in the Syrian settlement to be positive, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister went on to say.

"Iran's role is positive. We have no grounds whatsoever to question this," he said.

According to Ryabkov, Iran is behaving very responsibly with regard to the Syrian crisis promoting the implementation of the agreements that have been reached within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions.

He noted that contacts between Moscow and Tehran on the Syrian issue had become more frequent. "Consultations have intensified, there have been numerous high-level contacts. On the day after the basic agreement between Moscow and Washington that is currently in the limelight was reached Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani," Ryabkov said.

Use of force by outside players in Syria to undermine peaceful settlement

According to Ryabkov, the use of force in Syria by outside players, particularly Turkey, could undermine the political settlement in this country.

"We cannot but be concerned about military preparations, intensifying activity along the perimeter of the Syrian border. If the governments of the countries that are engaged in these activities, have plans to use force to achieve some goals, this would be a fatal blow to everything that has been achieved to date," he said.

"These governments, including Turkey, should be fully aware of their responsibility," Ryabkov said.

Talks of plan B on Syria aimed at disrupting peace process

In Sergey Ryabkov's words, speculations that the US allegedly has plan B on Syria are designed to undermine the peace process in the country.

"As for plan B, we know that our American colleagues and especially their security agencies have practice to devise various scenarios in case of this or that development," Ryabkov said.

Talks on plan B are "an unfair game," Ryabkov said explaining that the goals of these speculations are contrary to the agreement hammered out by the Russian and US presidents on February 22.

Those who spread this information "pursue a clear goal — to disrupt the process that has begun," the diplomat stressed.

The ceasefire in Syria came into force at midnight local time on February 27. An hour before the ceasefire became effective the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to support the cessation of hostilities. The document drafted by Russia and the United States was backed by all 15 member-states of the UNSC.

Assad's place in future Syria is to be decided by Syrians

The diplomat pointed out it is up to the Syrian people to decide about President Bashar Assad's place in future Syria.

"We have always said and will continue to say that Syria's future is to be decided by the Syrians. Since 2012, Russia has been insistently, despite all the attempts to frustrate our efforts, doing its best to launch political process," he noted. "Responsibility for the Syrian tragedy, for the tragedy of its people is not Russia's."

"We are now at a point when many in the international community understand that all of Moscow's efforts, including the anti-terrorist operation of the Russian aerospace force, have been geared, as a matter of fact, towards normalization in that country, towards repelling the terrorist threat and creating conditions for the launch of the political process," the Russian diplomat said.

"Regrettably, Washington keeps on sending signals that the current president has no place in future Syria. We don't think so. We think that it is up to the Syrian people to decide on that place. This is the core of our position," Ryabkov underscored.

Moscow hopes partners will revise position on Kurds participation in intra-Syrian talks

According to Sergey Ryabkov, intra-Syrian talks will be flawed without Kurds participation, so Moscow hopes its partners will revise their positions on that matter.

"We have always said and are saying that the situation will be flawed without due account of the Kurdish factor and without their representation at the talks that are called to launch the political settlement process," he said.

He noted that some of Russia's partners in the talks on the Syrian settlement did not share Russia's position on the participation Kurds in the peace talks.

"We hope understanding of the necessity to reckon with the interests of Syrian Kurds will win the upper hand and these countries will adjust their positions," he added.

Russia rules out 'Kosovo scenario' in Syria

The Kosovo scenario in Syria is ruled out, concrete patterns of political order in the country are to be determined by the Syrian people themselves, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

"Of course, I rule out the development of the situation under the Kosovo scenario," he said, noting that concrete models for political order in Syria in the future that will proceed from its integrity, including the possibility for federalization, should be worked out at intra-Syrian negotiations.

"We are now focused on the work with our colleagues from the United States, United Nations towards strengthening the ceasefire regime," Ryabkov said, adding that the fight against the Islamic State and Jebhat al-Nusra terrorist groups should continue.

"As for now, the goal is to shift the focus to the political process," he said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 29Feb16]

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