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Zaorálek: EU should go to Astana if political goal on agenda

ČTK |
17 January 2017

Brussels, Jan 16 (CTK) - The EU should attend the January 23 talks on Syria in Astana if they focus on a political solution to the conflict, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said after meeting his EU counterparts on Monday.

He added that the agenda of the event initiated by Russia, Turkey and Iran, has not been clear for now.

"What imports is the agenda of the negotiations," Zaoralek said.

He said the EU, which always promoted a political settlement of the Syrian crisis, cannot join technical debates or negotiations focusing on military issues and a military solution to the situation.

In the Syrian civil war, Russia and Iran have supported the regime of President Bashar Assad, who recently said he expects much from the Astana negotiations.

The Syrian opposition groups will attend the Astana talks as well, their representative announced on Monday.

Zaoralek said the EU should join the negotiations if they focused on political ways to settle the conflict in accordance with the U.N. Security Council's position.

"All of us have supported a maximum possible involvement of the EU. Nevertheless, we are not involved in military terms, which is why we can only participate in [events] focusing on a political solution," Zaoralek said.

He said EU diplomacy head Frederica Mogherini and her EU diplomacy have been intensively negotiating with a number of partners about the Syrian crisis, without the EU "waiting for the Astana."

The EU, together with the U.N., plans to stage an international conference on Syria in Brussels.

"It could and should deal with a political solution and possibly also assess the hitherto spending of means and ways to further stabilise Syria," Zaoralek said.

He said Europe's contribution to the reconstruction of Syria is out of the question until a trustworthy political transformation starts in the country.

The EU should participate in stabilising Syria to secure the operation of local hospitals and other basic things people need to return to normal life, Zaoralek said.

"We would like to push this through as a topic for the Brussels conference...Europe's strength rests in its capability of helping in these areas," Zaoralek added.

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