On 9 and 10 September 2017, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, met with his Saudi homologue and King Salmane in Riyadh.

In the final communiqué, the two parties declare:

“Our examination of the problems in the Middle East has emphasized the need to reach, as soon as possible, a diplomatic and political settlement to the conflicts and crises that persist in this strategic region, notably, regarding the situation in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, the Gulf area and the Palestinian territories. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia have confirmed that they share the same approach in principle. That is, the norms of international law, in particular, the principle that a state is sovereign over its own territory, should be respected; and the international community should be united in its fight against terrorism and extremist ideology.”

Sergei Lavrov then went on to Amman. In the course of a press briefing, he went back to his visit to Saudi Arabia and declared:

“Yes, I do think that Saudi Arabia is ready to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. This was confirmed right at the beginning of the Astana peace process when Russia, Turkey and Iran established this format. When this process was taking place, we received confirmation that Saudi Arabia would support this format and would be willing to cooperate to establish zones of deconfliction and to implement other initiatives that were elaborated at Astana. The Astana process, such that we see now, is the most efficient mechanism to stop bloodshed, to create conditions that would allow humanitarian issues to be resolved and to launch a political dialogue. It is at Astana, that direct dialogue between the government and the armed opposition is currently taking place. I think that everyone who supports this format is interested not only in the process being successful, but also in a solution being reached to the Syrian crisis that conforms to international law and to UN Security Council resolutions.”

The meeting at Astana could be extended to 15 September.

Anoosha Boralessa