Al-Muallem: No way we’ll talk with US unless Kerry apologizes
The Syrian FM claims to have rejected a US offer of direct talks without the involvement of the opposition “tools” during the Geneva conference over John Kerry’s refusal to apologize for his biased speech. US officials denied seeking such a meeting.
On his way back to Syria, the country’s foreign minister Walid Muallem was asked why hadn’t the Damascus delegation spoken directly with the US without intermediaries from the opposition delegation.
“Frankly, the Americans have asked for that in Montruex and I refused unless Kerry apologizes for the speech he made in the conference,” Walid Muallem told Syrian state media on board a plane bound for Damascus.
Syria’s foreign minister was apparently referring to the opening remarks of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech made in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22, who said that President Bashar Assad lost all legitimacy and cannot be a part of any transitional government.
“There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry said in that speech. Walid Muallem rebuffed him at the time, saying no outside force had the right to “withdraw legitimacy” from the president or government except for the people of the country.
The US officials were quick to deny claims by Syria’s foreign minister that US diplomats were seeking direct negotiation with the Syrian delegation.
“At no point did the United States offer to negotiate directly with the Syrian regime,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, though clarifying that the US indeed offered to connect with Syrian officials “on a staff level” through the United Nations and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi.
Psaki added that the State Department will never apologize for the views expressed by the top US diplomat. “At no point will Secretary Kerry ever apologize for speaking the truth about the brutality the Assad regime has inflicted on the people of Syria,” she said.
The peace talks that ended in Geneva on Friday producing no concrete results and no official commitment from Damascus delegation to return to the negotiation table on February 10. The government and opposition were unable to bridge their differences on ceasefires, humanitarian corridors or the question of a transitional governing body.
In a security conference in Munich, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry “to use their influence to ensure the talks proceed as scheduled on February 10.”
Lavrov insisted that “Russia can do nothing alone” as he asked the US to apply their influence on the Syrian opposition.
Muallem, meanwhile, warned the opposition will eventually suffer a “reality shock” unless they abandon their “illusions” and drop unrealistic demands.
The Assad delegation has sought to focus the discussions on brutal acts of terrorism, and Muallem accused the opposition delegation for refusing to sign a declaration condemning such activity in Syria.
“This rejection is a smirch on the forehead of the coalition’s delegation, and as I said yesterday that any person in the world who suffered from terrorism would adopt this draft statement,” Muallem said, adding that the foreign-based coalition who “live in 5-star hotels” knowing nothing about the Syrian reality.
The Syrian foreign minister also lashed out against the “unjust” international community that impose sanctions on a war-torn country.
“It is an ‘international community’ that adopts double standards policy and mostly dominated by the US… they dominate the UN Security Council and the UN,” Muallem said.
“When they say ‘international community’ we laugh as they do not represent the international community, for if we take into consideration the population of Russia, China, India and the BRICS countries, we find that they are the international community.”
Muallem questioned how could the West want to be involved Geneva dialogue and at the same time “impose sanctions on the Syrian people and children?” He asked European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton to explain how can the West can sanction a ban on food products yet at the same time discuss the issue of humanitarian aid shipments.
The foreign minister concluded by saying that in the negation process, Syria will refuse anything that contradicts the constitution.
“This constitution was reached by a referendum and no one can reach or even think that the presidency is a topic of discussion.”
Al-Moallem: Coalition delegation so-called “opposition” must abandon their illusions before coming back to Geneva
Onboard Syrian official delegation’s plane, (SANA delegate) – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Head of the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation to Geneva 2 Conference, Walid al-Moallem, stressed that the Syrian side rejected a U.S. request in Montruex for direct dialogue with the Syrian delegation without “the tools embodied in the coalition delegation so-called ‘opposition’ unless U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, apologizes for what he had said during the opening speech of the conference.”
In a statement to the media delegation accompanying the official delegation aboard the plane which is taking the delegation back to Damascus, al-Moallem said, in response to a question on the rejection of coalition to the draft statement submitted by the Syrian official delegation condemning terrorism, “This rejection is a smirch on the forehead of the coalition’s delegation, and as I said yesterday that any person in the world who suffered from terrorism will adopt this draft statement.”
“They have not lived in Syria; they were not with the school and university students when mortar shells fell on them; the bodies of their relatives were not amputated, and they did not suffer from destruction of bridges, gas pipelines and infrastructure; they live in 5-star hotels, so it is not strange that they rejected because they do not live in the Syrian reality,” al-Moallem added.
Al-Moallem pointed out that who controls the coalition delegation, which is the US, will reject the Syrian draft statement in spite of the fact that its top commitments, being a permanent UN Security Council member, is to agree because the draft statement was based on the UNSC resolutions and some of them are binding resolutions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
Answering a question on the unjust sanctions imposed on the Syrian people, al-Moallem said, “We are dealing with an international community whose majority is unjust; it is an international community that adopts double standards policy and mostly dominated by the US, so when they say ‘international community’ we laugh as they do not represent the international community for if we take into consideration the population of Russia, China, India and the BRICS countries, we find that they are the international community and not the other side, but they dominate the UN Security Council and the UN.”
He wondered, “How does the West want to be in Geneva dialogue and they impose sanctions on the Syrian people and children?” adding that he asked Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, in Montruex to explain how the west bans milk and food stuff on the Syrian people, and on the other hand the west presents the issue of humanitarian aid shipments.
Al-Moallem said “We told them that if they do not lift the sanctions on Syria, especially those that affect livelihood of citizens, we are a country that produces wheat and now we are importing wheat as to break the European blockade imposed on wheat”.
He wondered how could the US support Iraq in combating the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Sham” group and label that group as terrorist group, and at the same time provide weapons to these terrorists in Syria on public and along Geneva conference, adding that “these side is the side that was responsible for the attacks in New York and is responsible for terrorist attacks in Syria and no one knows where these target will be afterwards,” adding that this double- standard policy is rejected.
Answering a question on the coalition delegation’s focus on the transitional body and the presidency, al-Moallem said that the supporters of the coalition delegation have told them these illusions, adding that if they do not abandon these illusions then they will suffer a reality shock.
He stressed that Syria is a country that comprises constitution, institutions, government, People’s Assembly and President, adding “We will refuse anything that contradicts the constitution. This constitution was reached by a referendum and no one can reach or even think that the presidency is a topic of discussion.”
On Iran’s participation in Geneva conference, al-Moallem said that the UN has fell short in the issue of inviting Iran and spectrum of the national opposition in accordance to the Geneva communiqué, adding that “They did not consult us on who to participate in the coherence, I named it orchestra that is led by a maestro which is the US”, adding that he told US Secretary of State John Kerry that no one in the world, neither Kerry or the countries which revolve in the US orbit has the right to speak on behalf of the Syrian people because the Syrians are the only side to determine their future.
On the jurisdictions of the transitional government, al- Moallem said that if the other side has illusions that the transitional governing body or the upcoming government will restrict the jurisdictions of the president in violation of the current constitution then this side should abandon these illusions before coming to Geneva.
On whether the Syrian official delegation held side meetings, al-Moallem said that “It is important to know that the Syrian diplomacy does not hold unannounced side meetings. We do not work under the table with any side whatsoever.”
On whether the Syrian official delegation has offered lists of the names of the persons who were abducted by the terrorist groups, al-Moallem said that “to be able to offer lists on the names of the abductees, we should know which sides are committing kidnapping acts,” adding that these sides are multiple terrorist groups that are not supportive to the coalition named “opposition”.
“Even if we made such lists, they will say they do not have them, we want them to tell us the names of the persons who were abducted by the terrorists in the areas which are under their control and to say what are their demands, then we are ready to deal with them because we are fully sympathetic with the families of the abductees,” al-Moallem said.
On the sedition statements made by some members of the coalition, al-Moallem said that they are igniting sedition and the statement of the “Islamic State in Iraq and Sham” proves that, adding that “I have told them in Montruex that all of us are Christians when churches are targeted and we are all Muslims when mosques are targeted, they have failed in their attempts because of the awareness of the Syrian citizens and their rejection of sectarianism.”
On the Turkish statements which were made during the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister to Iran, al-Moallem said that actions not words are taken into account and there were no such action on our northern borders.
On why the Syrian delegation did not negotiate with Washington directly instead of having negotiations with its tools, al-Moallem said that “Frankly, the Americans have asked for that in Montruex and I refused unless Kerry apologies for the speech he made in the conference.”
Al-Moallem concluded by saying that “I am relieved to return to the homeland first, and over the credibility and professionalism of our national media during the conference, stressing that the official delegation has the trust of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian leadership and people.”
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