Russian, Syrian diplomats discuss situation in Syria, ways to start political process

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad discussed the situation in Syria and possible steps to start a political-diplomatic settlement process at a meeting on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Gatilov expressed his serious concerns about the escalation of the situation in Syria, which is causing increasingly more casualties among the civilian population, worsening the humanitarian situation, and inflicting irreparable damage on Syria's infrastructure and cultural-historical heritage. Russia is especially concerned that the conflict is assuming a pronounced inter-religious dimension," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"Moreover, the situation is worsening by the fact that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda and extremist groups ideologically close to it, have dramatically stepped up their activities in the country," it said.

The participants in the meeting agreed that "there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution of the problems of Syria's future development," the ministry said. "It should be based on consensus understandings achieved at a meeting of the Action Group in Geneva on June 30. They presume that the internal Syrian crisis should be settled within the framework of broad national dialogue and without interference from the outside and imposition of any development recipes," it said.

"A common opinion was aired that the priority at the present stage should be given to immediately stopping violence and bloodshed and starting substantive negotiations on Syria's future government system," it said.

"Russia will continue to work with the SAR government and opposition movements aimed at politically overcoming the conflict in Syria,\" it said.

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