Russia calls for ‘maximally effective’ terrorism fight

Associated Press

United Nations — Russia followed its launch of airstrikes in Syria with a call on Wednesday for the world to unite in the fight against terrorist groups, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told foreign ministers of world powers that his country was circulating a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to help make it happen.

Secretary of State John Kerry responded by announcing that the United States is prepared to welcome Russia actions in Syria if they are directed at the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.

He promised the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria would “dramatically accelerate our efforts,” and he said the U.S. is prepared to hold what he described as “de-confliction” talks with Russia over the two airstrike campaigns “as early as possible,” even this week.

“We will ensure through precision airstrikes that ISIL do not have any sanctuary, anywhere, on the ground in Syria,” Kerry said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Russia spoke a day after President Barack Obama made his own pitch on countering the threat of the Islamic State and other groups to a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

With Obama gone on Wednesday, it was the turn of Russia, which this month holds the presidency of the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful body.

Lavrov said Russia is ready to “forge standing channels of communication to ensure a maximally effective fight.” He listed countries with a key role to play in resolving the chaos in Syria, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar , the U.S. and even China.

“What we require are collective agreed approaches backed by Security Council,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister of France, which began its own airstrikes in Syria a few days ago, told the council that his country is ready to cooperate with Russia and others in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, but under three conditions that include an end to violence against Syria’s civilians and the exit of President Bashar Assad.

Laurent Fabius said the collective way forward must include a “broad-based negotiation toward a political transition that doesn’t lead to maintaining in power Syria’s hangman.”

The French minister said another condition for cooperating with other states is having “absolute clarity” about who the countries are fighting.

Frustrated by years of deep divide in the Security Council on Syria, with Russia and China using their veto power to block several proposals, Fabius called the body a “council of impotence.” France was chairing a meeting Wednesday on its campaign to have the council’s five permanent members restrain their use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities.

Other U.S. allies were clearly worried by Russia’s new moves in Syria, with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni telling reporters, “There’s no rapid military solution to this enormous humanitarian tragedy.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also will be on agenda Wednesday, with the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators — the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia — meeting alone first and then with key Mideast nations to discuss reviving long-stalled peace negotiations.

The Palestinians also plan a ceremony where President Mahmoud Abbas will raise their flag at the U.N. for the first time

Conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Africa have sparked a mass exodus of people to Europe. Migration will be the subject of a high-level session Wednesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting.