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Russia Could Support Safe Zones in Syria

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said that his country might support the U.S. initiative to establish safe zones for refugees in Syria, should the Syrian government approve it. He said it would require close cooperation with the UN and approval from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Speaking at a news conference with his Eritrean counterpart, Osman Saleh, Lavrov said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to create safe zones in Syria was aimed at easing the refugee crisis in Europe, particularly in neighboring countries. “If this is about the people who were forced to leave their homes by the conflict, […] getting their basic needs covered, […] then I think that the idea to create areas within Syria for those internally displaced could be discussed with the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations,” he said. Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Walid al-Moallem warned Monday that plans to establish safe zones on Syrian territory would be unsafe and violate the Arab nation’s sovereignty, unless they come in coordination with the Syrian government. Moallem’s statements came during a meeting on Monday with the head of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, who began an official visit to Syria on Monday, AP reported.