Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Russia and the Kurds of Iraq have strong historical ties that go back decades and that Moscow makes sure its ties with Iraqi Kurdistan do not have a negative impact on anyone else, particularly the Iraqi central government.
The Russian Foreign Minister says that Kurds—like all other peoples in the world—have the right to express their aspirations and that the referendum they have decided to hold in September is the means to do so. Meanwhile, he suggests, that that process and its outcome must be implemented peacefully, adding that Moscow is willing to help both Baghdad and Erbil in a way that would respect both sides.
On the issue of Syria Mr. Lavrov says that the Astana talks that led to the creation of the first safe zone in southern Syria proved that cooperation between countries such as Turkey, Iran, Russia, US and Jordan could lead to actual peace in parts of the country which could be expanded to all other regions in Syria. He maintains that Russia believes that the best solution lies with the Syrian people themselves, especially between the government and opposition groups that are not listed as terrorist organizations.
The draft constitution for Syria proposed by Russia, he argues, guarantees all political, ethnic and religious groups, including the Kurds, their rights in the new Syria and it could be a basis for ending the war in Syria and creating a secular democratic country as stipulated by the UN Security Council.
Mr. Lavrov says that Russia and the United States must work together to solve the Syrian crisis and find a way to solve other conflicts around the world. For that, he says, the Americans must end their suspicions and phobia of Russia and instead engage in direct talks as proposed by President Donald Trump during his election campaign.