‘Highly provocative’: Lavrov says agreed with Tillerson no future US strikes on Syrian govt

‘Highly provocative’: Lavrov says agreed with Tillerson no future US strikes on Syrian govt
Moscow and Washington have reached an understanding that further US strikes similar to the one carried out against Syria's Shayrat Air Base "should not occur again," the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

Lavrov emphasized that this issue was raised during his discussions with the US Secretary of State on Wednesday when Rex Tillerson was visiting Moscow.

“We have discussed this issue with the US Secretary of State in details yesterday and agreed upon the fact that a similar [strike] should not occur again,” he told journalists ahead of his meeting with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, in Moscow.

Lavrov further underlined that the US missile strike against the Shayrat Air Base played “a highly provocative role.”

He went on to say that the US confirmed its commitment to the idea that there is no other option of resolving the Syrian conflict other than the political dialog, adding that this offers hope for the future of the peace process.

“It is encouraging to some extent that Rex Tillerson confirmed yesterday that [the US still holds] the opinion that there is no alternative to the political process [of the resolution of the Syrian crisis] despite all the recent negative developments,” he said.

A “right and responsible step” is how Lavrov described the Syrian government’s decision to invite experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to conduct an investigation of the chemical weapon incident in Idlib province.

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He said the “hysteria” around the alleged Idlib chemical weapons attack should not impede efforts made in Astana and Geneva, which are aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict.

The Russian Foreign Minister warned that there are forces still trying to “bust up the ceasefire regime brokered in Astana and welcomed by the UN Security Council.”

Earlier, Lavrov said that failing to institute an international inquiry into the chemical attack in Syria's Idlib would mean that the international community is not interested in establishing the truth about the matter.

He reiterated that Moscow considers the US claims concerning the chemical weapons being used by the Syrian government “unfounded” and “lacking evidence,” speaking at the joint news conference with Tillerson on Wednesday following talks in Moscow.

Lavrov also denounced attempts to hamper cooperation between Russia and the US as “shortsighted.” The two diplomats also announced the creation of a joint expert group tasked with analyzing bilateral relations and addressing sources of mutual concern as they revealed plans to improve ties between Moscow and Washington.