Monday, January 30, 2017

Syria Cautions No Safe Zones Establishment Possible Without Authorization

Sputnik | Jan 30, 2017

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned Monday that the ‘safe zones’ plan favored by US President Donald Trump is in violation of sovereignty, unless it is organized in coordination with the Syrian government. 

The remark was made during an official meeting in Damascus with the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Filippo Grandi. It followed a Sunday phone conversation between Saudi Arabian King Salman and Trump in which the heads of state agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, to help refugees forced to flee due to ongoing conflicts in the region.

Trump repeatedly endorsed the creation of safe zones in Syria during his presidential campaign. According to a White House statement, he "requested and the king agreed to support safe zones," but no specifications were given on what actions in particular will be taken under the agreement.

According to the Syrian state news agency, SANA, foreign ministry and UNHCR officials agreed that any attempt to establish safe zones without authorization from Damascus is an "unsafe act."

During the meeting with Grandi, Al-Moallem urged all Syrians who fled the country during the six-year war to return home, vowing that the government would meet all their needs.

The call came in the wake of a White House executive order temporarily suspending immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria and Yemen. The order also suspends the flow of Syrian refugees into the country and halts all refugee resettlement in the US for 120 days, as the administration revises the vetting process.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin intends to clarify in a conversation with the US the issue of imposing security zones in Syria.

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