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Nasr al-Hariri: Establishing Safe Zone on Turkey Border Is Positive

Nasr al-Hariri: Establishing Safe Zone on Turkey Border Is Positive

Friday, 18 January, 2019 - 09:45
Head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Nasr al-Hariri (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Riyadh- Fateh al-Rahman Youssef
The new UN envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, will meet on Friday in Riyadh with the Head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Nasr al-Hariri, in the wake of new developments including the US withdrawal from Syria and the US-Turkish agreement on the establishment of a safe area along the Turkish border.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Hariri said: “We are waiting to discuss with the new envoy latest political and field developments, to determine the negative points and start again with a clear timetable in order to reach a political solution.”

Pedersen concluded his first visit to Damascus on Thursday, stressing the need for a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations to end the ongoing conflict in the country.

“We want to know about the new envoy’s vision for the future of the political process and the means to launch it again, underlining our desire and hope that this process be put again on the right track,” the Syrian opposition leader said.

“We believe that without discussing the essence of the matter and the implementation of Resolution 2254, which details the transitional phase, the constitutional and electoral process will have no sense,” he emphasized.

Hariri decried negligence towards the issue of those detained by the Syrian regime, saying: “There is a fundamental issue that has been ignored by all the international parties, including the United Nations - that is the issue of the detainees.”

He noted that while official figures indicated the presence of 250,000 detainees in the Syrian regime prisons, the real numbers were much higher and the violations they have been exposed to were clear, as confirmed by UN reports.”

The opposition leader underlined the need for decisive measures that would lead to releasing the detainees and holding the perpetrators accountable.

Asked about the recent agreement between the United States and Turkey on the establishment of a safe zone along the Turkish border, he stated that no final conclusions were reached on this issue and insisted that any political solution should preserve Syria’s unity, security, and sovereignty.

“The initial idea of establishing this safe zone on the Syrian-Turkish border… is a positive idea and represents a step in the right direction...,” Hariri affirmed, but added that it would not resolve the crisis without the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Commenting on the US decision to withdraw from Syria, Hariri said that this decision has “increased the Iranian regime's appetite”, as the region is “a source of oil, gas and other internal characteristics.”

He added that the area “represents the heart of the Iranian project in the corridor extending from Tehran to Beirut.”

The head of the HNC stressed that negotiations must continue in order to complete the formation of the constitutional process.

“But most of all, work should focus on the two other issues included in the Security Council resolution - the transitional phase and parliamentary and presidential elections under the auspices of the United Nations,” he said.

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