Moscow seeks full Arab League Syrian peacekeeper brief

Russia expects to receive further details from the League of the Arab States (LAS) regarding its proposal to send a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping force to Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“We are examining this initiative and hoping that our friends from the Arab League will give us explanations on some of its points,” Lavrov told a joint media conference after a meeting with his United Arab Emirates’ counterpart.

The Russian diplomat stressed that a peacekeeping mission can only be deployed after Damascus gives it the green light and a ceasefire deal is reached by the conflicting sides. Lavrov noted that such a mission implies that “there is peace first, which needs to be maintained.”

Earlier in January, the LAS withdrew its observers from Syria. On Sunday, after the leagues’ foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, the organization came up with a plan to send a joint United Nations and Arab peacekeeping mission to the unrest-hit country. However, the Syrian government has rejected the idea.

Speaking on Monday, Lavrov said that Russia would also like to get more details on LAS proposal to hold the conference of the so-called “Friends of Syria”. The US-backed group is due to gather in Tunisia on February 24.

“If it will be a conference that really unites all the Syrians, I believe it’s the right approach,” Lavrov said.

Earlier, Moscow said that it did not consider the group legitimate. It was created on the proposal of American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution on Syria. It unites the US, its European allies and Arab states.