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14 August 201516:01

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Haytham Manna, former coordinator of Syria’s National Coordination Committee (NCC), Moscow, August 14, 2015

1550-14-08-2015

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Mr Manna,

We are pleased to welcome you and your delegation to Moscow. This is not your first visit and this is not the first meeting between you and your colleagues and our representatives. However, today, unlike during our previous contacts, this meeting is taking place amid growing understanding of the inadmissibility of the status quo in this region, especially in Syria.

Everyone, even those who had doubts on this account at some point in the past, now clearly understand that, most importantly, terrorists should be prevented from seizing even larger territories. The common anti-terrorist task is coming to the fore. In this regard, I’d like to recall the initiative of President Putin, who called on all forces that oppose terrorist ideology and practices to unite in fighting the so-called Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra and other extremist groups.

We also believe it is imperative to reinvigorate efforts to promote a political settlement in Syria based on the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012 and to support the efforts undertaken by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. We strongly believe that, among other things, it is imperative to promote the unification of all opposition groups on a constructive platform, which will primarily focus on Syria’s future as a single state, in which all ethnic and religious groups feel protected.

These days, Russia, working hand in hand with our partners from the Gulf countries and other countries in the region, as well as our American colleagues, with the support of our European partners, strives to ensure the earliest possible unification of all opposition forces and to pave the way for the effective participation of the Syrian opposition in the resumption of the Geneva process.

We know that you have done a lot in recent years to facilitate the unification of the opposition on a constructive platform. Thus, your thoughts about the situation are particularly valuable to us. I hope that today we will have a candid, open and constructive discussion of these and other issues related to the Syrian crisis.

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