Friends of Syria group stance destructive – Russian Deputy FM

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The Friends of Syria Group, which has gathered again in London, has inferior and destructive philosophy, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to Interfax. “Unlike some of our Western partners, meeting in London, we work with all Syrian sides, not just with one as if supporting it against the other,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said. “This philosophy is inferior and destructive for us,” he added.

“The governmental delegation is ready to come [to the negotiations]. We believe that it is necessary to make a more representative delegation of the opposition, to involve representatives of other groups to the coalition representatives, for instance the National Coordination Committee, and to expand the representation of Kurds,” Bogdanov stated.

“Political work and negotiating process are needed because this vacuum and lack of political work cause additional violence, casualties and destructions every day,” the deputy minister said.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the “Friends of Syria” countries meeting in London had agreed to increase support for moderate elements of the Syrian opposition.

Russian observers invited to monitor Syrian election

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that the invitations have been sent to Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and Armenia on the threshold of the presidential election slated for June 3, Itar-Tass agency reports.

The speaker of the Syrian People’s Council, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, sent on Monday messages to speakers from friendly to Syria countries, including Russia, inviting their delegations to Damascus to monitor the presidential election slated for June 3.

“We invite groups of deputies and experts from the countries that take an objective stance on the Syrian events. We will be grateful to our colleagues if they take part in the monitoring of a free and democratic atmosphere of the vote,” the speaker said, noting that it would be the first in the country’s history election on an alternative basis.

According to the speaker, 24 Syrian nationals representing all social layers and religious confessions had been nominated and submitted documents to the Supreme Constitutional Court. However, only three contenders, including President Bashar al-Assad, managed to secure support of 35 deputies necessary for the registration.

“The Syrian people will be electing the head of state in conditions of a hostile information campaign unleashed by Western and Arab media outlets that has continued since the start of the crisis until the present moment. Its aim is to distort the real situation for the sake of a plot to destroy the country,” the speaker said.

“Those who wage war against Syria do not conceal their spite and concern over the fact that the election will proceed within the timeframe envisaged by the Constitution. They are trying to openly interfere in internal affairs, although it is the sovereign right of the Syrians themselves to determine when exactly to elect the president,” al-Laham said.

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that the invitations have been sent to Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and Armenia.

Humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees not enough, system approach needed – Lavrov

Humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon will not solve the problem, a system approach is needed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil on Thursday, April 24. “We are convinced that humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, whose number keeps growing, will not solve the problem by itself. There are international norms and standards for the treatment of refugees and displaced persons. It is also necessary to take into account the specific features of the country to which refugees are heading,” Lavrov said.

He noted that Lebanon had given shelter to more than a million Syrian refugees. “This equals a quarter of Lebanon’s own population. Naturally, this creates many problems. We will provide assistance in finding a more systemic approach of the international community to this problem. We believe that in this case, just like in any international matter, the approaches of the interested state, in this case Lebanon, must be respected. Russia will be ready to consider constructively and seriously the approaches the new government of Lebanon is planning to state in order to get this problem solved in a more comprehensive manner,” the Russian minister said.

Russia is closely watching “what is happening in this friendly country”. “We will support the efforts of the Lebanese army and law enforcement agencies which have lately been taking important efforts to restore order and counter Jihadists,” Lavrov said.

“Our country will continue to participate in the International Support Group on Lebanon, which is called upon to arrange additional aid in order to strengthen government institutions, the army and law enforcement agencies and overcome acute socioeconomic problems that have been aggravated by the influx of a large number of refugees from neighboring Syria,” the minister said.

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