Russia aided Syria ceasefire, says Italy

Rome, Oct 13 (IANS/AKI) Italian Foreign Minster Angelino Alfano on Friday paid tribute to the role Russia has played in the longest ceasefire to date in war-wracked Syria.

He also said that it is vital to keep channels of dialogue open with Russia at all times.

“In Syria, Russia’s action and that of other international actors has brought about the longest truce yet seen at a time when talks in Geneva were unable to achieve this.

“The Astana process should consolidate that ceasefire but the political process should be completed in Geneva to completely stabilise Syria,” he told the Transatlantic Forum on Russia here.

“The country’s destiny must be put in the hands of the Syrian people through a process of transition that can only end in free elections.”

Russia has supported the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: politically, with military aid, and since September 30, 2015 also through direct military involvement. It has brokered ceasefires in several areas of Syria since last July.

Alfano also said: “We must keep the relationship with Russia alive. It is an inevitable road.”

“The NATO-Russia Council was formed at Pratica di Mare in 2002 to keep dialogue open, even at the most difficult moments,” he added.

He called dialogue between Russia and the Transatlantic Alliance “absolutely strategic”.

“It is indispensable that this channel always remains open,” especially given the dimensions of global security and the fight against terrorism in which Moscow plays a crucial role, he said.

Italy will in 2018 chair the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to which Russia belongs, Alfano noted.

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