Interview: Syria will thwart schemes to split the country, deal with illegal invaders: Assad advisor

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-25 20:19:56|Editor: liuxin
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BEIJING, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- If there are any schemes to divide or separate the country in the upcoming political settlement process, Syrians will thwart them, a top presidential advisor said here Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua during her visit to China, Bouthaina Shaaban, political and media advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said with war on terrorism ending in Syria, the government is ready to take part in the political settlement process.

"We do not like wars and we hope to find another way to solve the problem other than war, but we will not accept federalization or anything that threatens the unity of our country," she said.

The Syrian government will attend the upcoming round of UN-backed peace talks in Geneva on Nov. 28 and the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held in the Russian city of Sochi.

The congress, proposed by Moscow in late October, is expected to bring together opposition and pro-government forces as well as all Syrian ethnic and religious groups to work on the peace process.

Expressing gratitude to the Chinese government for vetoing United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria, Shaaban said Syria attaches great importance to China's role in international relations.

She also thanked the Chinese government and people for providing political support and humanitarian assistance, adding that she hoped China would offer more help on reconstruction of the country.

The large-scale military operations waged by the Syrian government with the help of Russia, Iran and other countries against terrorist outfits were coming to an end, and a new stage had been reached for the war-torn country's possible transition to a political settlement, she said.

The official said the government faced three main challenges in the new stage. The first was eliminating the remaining terrorist groups and retaking the northwestern province of Idlib controlled by rebels, mainly al-Nusra Front. The second was pushing forward the political settlement process, and the third reconstruction of the country.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Sochi to discuss the Syrian crisis. In a joint statement at the end of the meeting, the trio said they supported a comprehensive dialogue in Syria.

Shaaban praised Russia's attempt to reach a political solution to the crisis from the very onset.

"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a partner and ally in the victory over terrorism, so he is naturally a partner in the political settlement process," she said.

This week, Putin and Assad held a four-hour meeting in Sochi, exchanging views on the best way to protect the interests of the Syrian people and the integrity of the country.

Regarding the previous rounds of the UN-backed Geneva peace talks, Shaaban said the problem in Geneva lay in the "so-called" opposition groups being supported by different countries which were barely united and therefore unlikely to be active contributors to resolving the crisis.

Running parallel to the Geneva talks, negotiations are also being held in Astana, Kazakhstan, with Russia, Turkey and Iran as the mediators. Seven rounds of Astana talks have been held since January, with the significant outcome of the establishment of four de-escalation zones in Syria.

Shaaban said the de-escalation zones helped the Syrian army and its allies gain more time to fight the terrorist groups.