15 December 2017

Syria safe zones are not repeat 'Libyan scenario'

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov does not consider US President Donald Trump's proposal to create safe zones in Syria an attempt to repeat the "Libyan scenario."

US President Donald Trump's administration should specify its approaches toward establishing safe zones in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

Earlier, Trump said in an interview with ABC News that he plans to create safe zones for civilians in Syria. Trump emphasized the option was preferable to letting millions of refugees into Europe or the United States, having previously characterized the EU approach of accepting millions of refugees a "disaster."

"We understand that Donald Trump's administration is yet to specify its approach. The idea of safe zones was discussed in the beginning of the Syrian crisis. Then they wanted to repeat "the Libyan scenario," announcing the creation of a safe zone, where the anti-government forces were located. I do not see that Washington attempts to follow the same path now," Lavrov said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

The minister said Moscow was ready to discuss establishing safe zones in Syria with the new US administration.

"As soon as the State Department leadership is completely formed, I am convinced that we will enter into contact and establish a full-fledged regular dialogue," Lavrov said.

Both Russia and the United States have been involved in trying to settle the Syrian conflict over the past year after Moscow started a counterterrorism aerial campaign toward the end of 2015.

Turkey, which also got involved in the settlement effort more recently, intervened in northern Syria in August 2016. The Turkish authorities said the aim of the operation was to clear the region from terrorists and make it a safe zone for refugees. The Turkish operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian government and the Kurds.

2017.02.01 / 18:59
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