Envoy: Russia Expecting Tangible Shift in US Policy
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The new US administration’s policies have fallen short of Russia’s expectations, Russian ambassador to Iran said, expressing the hope that Washington would come to the understanding that settlement of conflicts, like those in Syria to Afghanistan, requires interaction with Moscow.
In an exclusive interview with Tasnim in Tehran, Levan Jagarian said US President Donald Trump was expected to keep his pledge to revise his predecessor’s “wrong policies” toward Russia and begin to resolve the problems created by Barack Obama.
“We are still waiting, but no serious change has occurred yet,” he added.
Jagarian noted that US Secretary of State Tillerson’s recent visit to Moscow helped the two sides gain a better understanding of one another’s stances, but “we hope that Mr. Trump would realize that without cooperation with Russia, it would be impossible to settle the regional crises, either in Syria, in Afghanistan, or in North Korea.”
The envoy further decried as a “clear violation of the internal law” the recent US missile attack on the Syrian government’s Shayrat Airfield on the pretext that the Damascus government had allegedly launched a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province.
“Russia has decided to reinforce Syria’s air defense capabilities,” he added, describing the chemical attack as a “provocative move by the terrorists” to clear the way for a US military strike in Syria.
However, the ambassador added, Russia believes that the US could play a positive role in the settlement of the crisis in Syria, and stressed the need for continued political and military efforts though “there are numerous problems in Syria and there is no trust between the warring sides at all.”
Asked about the prospect of a solution to the Syria crisis, Jagarian said it appears to be “far away” as “the differences are too many.”
“Particularly after the US attack, the opposition has become hopeful about overthrowing the (Syrian) legitimate government with the use of force, but they should realize that a military resolution (of the crisis) is basically impossible, and they need to deal with the issue only politically and work with the legitimate government. We must also preserve Syria’s territorial integrity.”
The envoy also recommended the US government to take a more active role in the political sphere instead of resorting to force.
He further dismissed the allegations by the US that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, saying Moscow is in contact with the Taliban in order to persuade them to enter talks with the Kabul government and get involved in political processes.
The Americans have no right to criticize Russia for having contact with the Taliban, because the US itself is in regular contacts with them, particularly in the Doha office, Jagarian explained.
He also said that the US administration’s decision to not attend a recent meeting in Moscow on Afghanistan peace -despite receiving an invitation- signifies that Americans “are not currently ready to cooperate with Russia, and this is a profound mistake.”
Earlier this month, the US skipped the meeting in the Russian capital aimed at facilitating peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It was attended by senior diplomats from Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and ex-Soviet Central Asian nations.
They urged the Taliban to stop fighting and engage in a direct dialogue with the government.