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Russia slams Turkey’s 'unconstructive role' in latest round of Syria talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov ©AP

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has slammed Turkey’s "unconstructive role" in the latest round of indirect talks between the warring sides to the crisis in Syria.

He said Ankara influenced the main opposition group to withdraw from the negotiations.

Gatilov made the remarks in an interview with the Russian Izvestia daily published on Tuesday.

“It is a pity that the foreign players, and important regional [players such] as Turkey, continue to play an unconstructive role in this process,” Gatilov stated.

The Russian official said Turkey made the foreign-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to suspend participation in the UN-brokered discussions.

Gatilov expressed Moscow's opposition to the Saudi-backed HNC’s withdrawal from the Geneva talks. “We condemn their action and do not support.”

The Syrian government delegation meets with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura during Syria peace talks at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 26, 2016. ©Reuters

The peace talks, which began in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 13, were brought to a halt after the HNC walked out of the discussions in protest at what it called the Syrian government’s violation of a ceasefire in the Arab country.

Damascus dismissed the accusation, saying the truce was violated by foreign-backed militants.

The nation-wide cessation of hostilities, brokered by Moscow and Washington, was introduced in February in a bid to facilitate dialogue between rival parties in Syria.

However, renewed violence in recent weeks in some parts of Syria, especially the northwestern city of Aleppo, has left the ceasefire in tatters and torpedoed the peace talks.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian deputy foreign minister highlighted a shift in Washington's stance on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying the issue is no longer a prerequisite for the peace negotiations.

Gatilov said it is up to the Syrian nation to decide the fate of President Assad.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry held a phone conversation, during which they underlined the need for the continuation of discussions between the Syrian authorities and the opposition.

"Lavrov again pointed to the need for the anti-government formations oriented at Washington to separate from the terrorist groups as soon as possible and to thwart the replenishments to extremists through the territory of Turkey," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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