Shukri and Putin envoy agree on 'activating political solution in Syria'

Saturday 17-10-2015 07:16 PM
Shukri and Putin envoy agree on 'activating political solution in Syria'

By Hend Kortam 

CAIRO, Oct. 17 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt's foreign minister and the special envoy of the Russian president held "extensive" talks on Saturday reflecting the "compatibility" of their visions on the Syrian crisis.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and Mikhail Bogdanov, the special representative of the Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Middle East and Africa discussed the importance of solving the Syrian issue from its roots by "activating the political solution" as stipulated in the Geneva II Conference, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.  

They also talked about the importance of confronting terrorist organisations, which is an "important step" towards the political solution.

Last month, Russia launched airstrikes on targets in Syria using the Syrian airfield Hmeymim.

Bogdanov told Shukri that his country is targeting "groups belonging to terrorist organisations," denying that Russia is targeting "the Syrian opposition with its moderate components that are far from extremism."  

Shukri expressed his hopes that this would be conducive to a political solution and would end the current stalemate.

While the Russian move is vocally opposed by major Western and regional powers like the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Egyptian state, a U.S ally, said it supports the move.

Egypt said the Russian strikes are "consistent" with the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. is leading a 65-country coalition to strike Islamic State Fighters and doubts the Russian claim that it is targeting Islamic State strongholds in Syria.

Instead, the U.S. and other countries opposing the Russian strikes believe that Russia does not distinguish between Islamic State fighters and other groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech in Indiana University that "the point we have made to the Russians, however, is that it would be totally self-defeating to the point of farce to try at the same time to prop up Bashar al-Assad and his murderous regime, which seems to be precisely what Moscow wants to do."

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, following the failure of popular protests calling for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. In the midst of the fight between Syrian opposition groups and the president, Islamic State fighters emerged and took over various parts of Iraq and Syria, complicating the situation.   

Kerry added in his speech that "in Syria, we see a chance to increase pressure on Daesh [Islamic State fighters] from more than one direction, especially if Russia makes good on its commitment, repeated many times, to help."

Russia has been supporting the Assad regime since the Syrian civil war began, while the U.S. along with Saudi Arabia, have backed the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Cairo-Moscow ties are stronger than they have been in years. In 2014 and 2015, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Moscow four times, most recently last August, when the two countries announced cooperation in building Egypt's first nuclear power plant.

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