World / US and Canada

Russia calls for coordinated efforts to combat terrorism

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-01 19:21

UNITED NATIONS -- Russia introduced a draft resolution on coordinated efforts to combat terrorism at a UN meeting on Wednesday, at a time almost simultaneous to its first airstrikes against positions of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

There is "a need to unite and coordinate the efforts of those who can make a real contribution to combating terrorism," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a UN Security Council ministerial-level meeting on the Middle East.

Moscow, which this month holds the presidency of the Security Council,also sought in its draft resolution assistance from a list of countries to participate in an accompanying political process to solve the Syria crisis.

"There is a need to have an inclusive and balanced outside assistance for the political process with the participation of Russia, the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar," Lavrov said. "We believe a useful role must be played here by the European Union. The involvement of China would also enhance chances of success."

"In one word, all of those who are standing up again ISIL (another acronym for IS) on the ground as well as outside players...can back the counter-terrorism activities in the region," Lavrov said.

More than 70 representatives of countries and regional organizations participated in the council meeting, held on the sidelines of the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly, which entered its third day Wednesday.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon said that the Syria crisis "has proven to be the most intractable," which "has generated one peril after another: the use of chemical weapons, the rise of ISIL and other extremist groups, the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War and the displacement of 8 million people inside the country."

"We need to take urgent measures to protect civilians from widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," Ban said. "We have an obligation to the Syrian people to help ensure accountability for serious crimes."

Meanwhile, Russian air forces carried out airstrikes Wednesday in the central Syrian provinces of Homs and Hama, targeting what Moscow said were IS positions.

In the first airstrikes, 20 flights were carried out, hitting eight IS targets, including a command post held by the IS militants, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

"If Russia's actions reflect a genuine commitment to defeat ISIL, we are prepared to welcome those efforts," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in the council chamber.

"We would have grave concerns should Russia strike areas where ISIL-affiliated targets are not operating," Kerry said, adding that the coalition will continue and "we have conducted strikes against ISIL targets in Syria over the last 24 hours."

Later at a news briefing following the meeting of the Middle East Quartet -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, Kerry expressed US concerns about the nature and the type of the targets of Russian airstrikes in Syria.

Kerry also called for an imminent military-to-military discussion to deconflict their military operations in Syria.

He said both sides "agreed that it is imperative to find a solution to this conflict (of their military operations in Syria) and avoid escalating it in any way and seeing it intensified beyond anybody's control."

"We all want Syria democratic, united, secular," Lavrov said. "But we have some differences as for details on how to get there. We agreed on some steps...and our experts will undertake very soon with other countries (and organizations) including the United Nations" to create the conditions for a political solution to the Syria crisis, he said.

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