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Russia, Jordan agree to speed de-escalation zone in south Syria

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) attends a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi (R) after a meeing in Amman, Jordan on 11 September, 2017 [Shadi Nsoor/Anadolu Agency]
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) attends a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi (R) after a meeing in Amman, Jordan on 11 September, 2017 [Shadi Nsoor/Anadolu Agency]

Jordan said yesterday it was working with Russia to roll out a plan to end fighting in southwestern Syria “in the fastest possible time” – part of a peace pact for the border area brokered by Amman, Moscow and Washington.

Jordan and Russia’s foreign ministers met in Amman to discuss progress in setting up a “de-escalation zone” in the particularly sensitive region that includes Syrian territory neighbouring Israel.

Neither side gave details on any sticking points, but diplomats told Reuters they have included the final positions of fighting forces, US unease about Russian involvement in policing the deal, and when to reopen a key border crossing.

Russia, which backs Syria’s government in the civil war, and the United States, which backs rebel forces seeking to topple President Bashar Al-Assad, met secretly in Jordan in June and announced a ceasefire in Syria’s southwest a month later.

The truce has reduced fighting there and is meant to lead to a longer-lasting de-escalation, a step towards a full settlement more than six years into the complex war.

Read: As Syria war tightens, US and Russia military hotlines humming

“We expressed our support to resolve all issues relating to the de-escalation zones’ performance,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Amman.

“The goal is to set up a de-escalation zone in the fastest possible time,” his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi said.

“Our priority is that our borders are secure and that means that there should be no Daesh nor Nusra nor sectarian militias,” Safadi added.

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