Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Press-Conference by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia on "Reports over Alleged Attacks on Healthcare in North-West Syria"

Dear Colleagues, I called this press-conference preceded by my briefing to speak on numerous allegations of bombings of medical and other civilian facilities in Idlib. We have heard them both in the Media and in the Security Council. Some of our colleagues from other delegations even organized open meetings on this topic.

I would like to focus today on what would be of specific interest to you as media community. I have no doubt that the dramatic Syrian conflict will be studied and analyzed at some point in the future, since it is, in a sense, revolutionary in terms of the variety of warfare methods applied.

It revealed a whole new dimension of warfare, when modernly equipped, trained and well supplied non-state armed groups act as an effective party to armed conflict, but often manage to hide behind and invoke international humanitarian law. Secondly, the deliberate manipulation of information has become one of the most important weapons of this war, especially at its current stage when terrorists are on the brink of defeat.

Besides being a battle for territory, it is a battle for minds. Tons of articles have been issued about Syria, hours and hours of broadcasts have been released. We have piles of material to work with here, obviously. But it does not take too much of analysis skills to see a clear trend: every time the Government gets close to retaking control of a major region, it immediately faces massive amount of disinformation thrown into public space. And as a tradition, the bulk of it comes from the so-called ‘reliable’, but unidentified sources. Well, the sources may be unclear, but their purposes are crystal clear - to slow down a military offensive and discredit the military rivalries. Few modern-day weaponry is capable to be as effective as that one.

As many of you rightfully stress, the province of Idlib represents one of the last major strongholds of terrorist groups in Syria. And since for the last five years it served as a retreat place for ‘shady’ elements from all over Syria, we now end up with having true ‘melting pot’ here. It combines all sorts of groups and actors, among them jihadists and terrorists listed by the Security Council. ‘50 shades of gray’, indeed.

Nobody denies that there are also civilians in Idlib, and that they live in dire conditions, some of them going through second or even third round of relocation. However, there is no other way to resolve their suffering, than to liberate this area from jihadists, who simply hold civilians as a shield to protect their own positions.

It is most important, that there is no UN presence in Idlib, which means that the information about what is happening in Idlib comes from the so called ‘trustworthy sources’ within Idlib that are traditionally not revealed due to ‘security reasons’. We have witnesses similar situations in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta.

Do you remember, for example, an outcry about medical supplies in Aleppo? When the city was liberated, the Syrian authorities discovered tons of medicines and equipment in terrorists’ warehouses. We will show you something similar today, actually.

Well, we never trust ‘unidentified sources’, and when we use our own means to trace these sources of information, the result is always the same – the claims came from the people, who are connected to listed terrorist groups like the notorious “White Helmets”.

Today I would like to demonstrate to you a few examples from a large batch of data that we gathered in Idlib in response to those allegations. As they were made in public, we will respond in the same way.

First is the so-called deconfliction system, or more correctly, deconfliction arrangement, since it is an informal setting. It exists between the UN and parties in Syria, whereby the UN provides the location of objects that are reported to be civilian in order to make sure that they are protected in the course of military activities. We started this practice back in 2014, and it proved to serve well when the reports came directly from the area where the UN staff or its partner organizations were present and operating. Back then, the mechanism was really useful.

Now let us move to 2019. Idlib. Northern Syria. Like I said, the UN is not present on the ground there. It is a fact that has been reconfirmed by our UN friends many times. So the bulk of information they report comes directly from informants that I referred to before. This may also explain the discrepancies in numbers reported by the UN. We constantly find them in publications specifically on figures regarding IDPs and informal settings in Idlib. We reflected it to our UN colleagues and hope they will do their homework. For example, in one publication they spoke about 400,000 IDPs in Idlib, whether in another one – about 700,000 people, which makes a huge discrepancy.

Now, back to deconfliction. Under the arrangement they report to the UN that under coordinates X and Y they have a 100% civilian facility and ask the UN to make sure it is not hit by warring sides. The UN, in turn, shares this information with the parties, acting as a 'mailbox’ between the sides. So when you hear that this or that object was deconflicted – that’s done under such a procedure.

Now. You are a fighter on a battlefield. Suppose fighter jets are coming. You have a choice to hide in the nearest empty building or go into the one, which you reported as 'de-conflicted', hoping that it would not be hit, since the UN shared its coordinates. What would you do? I leave this question open. Also, would you try to use this arrangement for your military advantage? Why not? The only thing, which can stop you, is the respect for Geneva Conventions, which directly forbid to use civilian infrastructure to shield military objects, since that would compromise protected status (Additional protocol 1, Article 12). But would you expect Al-Nusra to respect the IHL? I would not.

I will give you a couple of examples of how this deconfliction arrangement is used in real life. The deconfliction list reported by the UN contains hundreds of facilities claimed to be civilian. It is pretty challenging to verify it in its entirety, but our military personnel managed to do at least part of the homework and closely examine some objects submitted to us under the arrangement. That was done as part of reconnaissance activities, which are regularly undertaken by our military personnel in line with the relevant obligations under the same IHL. We specifically stress that every time.

And what did we find? Lots of instances of deliberate disinformation. First, the coordinates in the list that we received failed to match factual location of the reported deconfliction facilities. Let us have some examples.

[SLIDE 3] Item 91 in the list – Kafr-Zaita public health facility. It is a well-known structure, which was there long before the war and its coordinates are available even on Google maps. But in the list we were provided with [SLIDE 4], the coordinates were changed to a different location, which rests 4 kilometers away to the north-west. And it is not Kafr-Zaita public health facility. It is an underground facility with water supply and close to a farm. [SLIDE 5] The coordinates are on the screen.

Another showcase example – the central hospital of Maarat An-Numan, listed under item 156 in the deconfliction list. [SLIDE 6] It is now on the screen together with the factual coordinates. Again, it is one of the oldest establishments in the city, and the location is well-known. But the coordinates provided to the UN were false  again. What we received instead [SLIDE 7] is a building located 10 (!) kilometers away to the South-East. It is even in a different city. According to the data we have, it was a local police outpost before the area was occupied [SLIDE 8]. Do I need to tell you what happens with a police station and specifically the weaponry inside, when the area is taken over by jihadists? I am sure you can figure it out. Just as the reasons behind reporting it as a hospital.

I gave you only two examples due to time constrains, but to get you a sense of an ‘iceberg’ size here, I will just say that only in July alone we were provided with 12 false coordinates. And that is only about what we had capacity and time to check.

We often hear that locations reported to us may represent a temporary medical facility and discrepancy in the coordinates is not a big issue. Well, I won’t dwell on the distinctive features that the hospitals should carry in accordance with the First Geneva Conventions (article 38) and Fourth Geneva Conventions (article 18), though it is also important to remember – that apparently this building [SLIDE 9] and this one [SLIDE 10] do not answer the requirements set forth in the Conventions. Just as this installation. [SLIDE 11]

The point I will make instead is that no one can verify what is actually located at these coordinates. But still they are reported as deconflicted sites. But what do many of those facilities really represent?

I would refer to the towns of Al-Habit (Habeit) and Kafr Zaita (Kafr Zita). Both have been recently liberated from the Nusra Front and their associates, and both were earlier included into deconfliction list submitted to us. I covered Kafr Zaita today already. Remember that cave bunker? Now, I will give you an opportunity to see what was inside that facility.

But first, Habit. [SLIDE 12] The town was taken over by jihadists in 2014. The building reported to us as a hospital was located on a frontline and was used as one of the stationary points for heavy firearms. [SLIDE 13] Remarkably the family which lived there, left with terrorists back in 2014. By all means and criteria it is a 100% military target. There were no traces of medical activities found.

And now, back to Kafr-Zaita. [SLIDE 14] It was apparently a medical unit, well hidden beneath the ground with all the premises scattered around artificial caves excavated by jihadists. All of them were intact and lacked any trace of damage. May I remind you that this was one of the facilities, which was reported to us as air raided by the Office of UN Special Envoy back in July, as well as by partners in the World Health Organization under their so-called Surveillance System for Attacks on Healthcare. [SLIDE 15] The case of Kafr-Zaita perfectly describes the concerns that we expressed over this Surveillance System. These facilities are now accessible for the journalists working in Syria. Everyone, who wants to have a sense what a classic disinformation campaign of the 21st century looks like, can examine this case more closely. Also, colleagues, remember I mentioned the well-supplied storage that Syrian forces discovered in Aleppo? Well, apparently, we are dealing with the same story in Idlib [SLIDE 16]. This is the inside of that medical facility with medicines and instruments.

That brings me to my final point. The example of Kafr-Zaita is not an isolated case. Apparently, in July this year, our UN colleagues submitted to us the list of 11 locations tagged as ‘reported and confirmed’ damage, as they said, with aerial attacks. Our military took an effort and went through all of them. We will now demonstrate you our findings before you ask questions. The slides will be self-explanatory.

Before we demonstrate them, Colleagues, I would like to once again reiterate that the Russian military takes all the necessary precautions before every operation it is planning. The slides we are going to show to you next demonstrate that aerial surveillance remains the critical part of this planning. That is how we get all the images from different time periods, which we now manage to compare.

[SLIDE 17] Primary hospital in Ma’arat An-Numan.

[SLIDE 18] Hospital Al-Kelawai Jisr ash-Shugur.

[SLIDE 19] Hospital Kafr-Nabl (was reported damaged by the “White Helmets”).

[SLIDE 20] Underground facility in Kafr-Zeita. Even given the dual purpose of this facility, neither us nor Syrians bombed it in June. At this slide you can see that the facilities the photos of which were taken before, stay intact on the recent photos that were taken after the alleged attacks.

I would now turn to your questions if any, but before I would like to raise one more issue and also leave it open. Why we do not see such devotion on part of our colleagues from the international organizations, Media, and humanitarian advocates when it comes to how the ‘coalition’ operates in North-East Syria? We all remember Raqqa, we remember Mosul in Iraq. Are these inquiries requested or submitted? Are there events being promoted? That also applies to Al-Hol’ camp. Does it go in the spotlight as often, as Rukban camp in the South? By the way, we have received troubling news from Rukban. Apparently, the terrorists who control the camp massively blocked the civilians from fleeing it, and later on opened fire at the distribution of humanitarian aid. I hope it would be duly reported and highlighted in the UN materials. My briefing is over, I will now answer your questions.

Q.: Thank you, Ambassador, for this press-conference on behalf of UNCA. My question is – what do you expect from the UN Board of Inquiry on Syria? And, if I may, I have another question on the Gulf Plan that you presented some time ago. In light of the new developments in the Gulf, is the plan still on the table? Will it be somehow debated during the UN General Assembly next week? Thank you.

A.: First question. We believe that the aim of the Commission of Inquiry that was established by the Secretary-General is exactly to find out how the UN is operating in Syria, what are the deficiencies and how they can be improved. I think that our today’s briefing would provide lots to contemplate on for that Commission. If we are being asked about it, we will, of course, pass these materials to the Commission to study and analyze.

On the initiative on regional security architecture in the Gulf, yes, it is more than alive and, of course, on the table. Today, we discussed Yemen and we again, like Senator Cato the Elder was saying about Carthage, we repeated that we still have SC resolution 598 on the table, resolution that entrusted Secretary-General with a need to think about the security architecture in the Gulf and that our draft concept of regional security architecture that we presented recently is on the table. And yes, we hope that it will be discussed be the interested parties and I am sure that it will be mentioned and deliberated during the forthcoming session of the General Assembly.

Q.: You make it quite clear that the UN does not really know what is going on because it does not have the staff on the ground. Your military are doing the reconnaissance and have a very clear picture of what is going on on the ground. Can I ask you a couple of questions about the situation on the ground? In Russia’s estimation, what is the population right now living in Idlib? And how many fighters are there? And how many of those fighters, which you say, are jihadist fighters? And given that you have been briefed by your military and you are carrying out with the Syrian Government what you say a plan to liberate the area, what are they telling you about how long this will take you to complete that mission?

A.: They are telling us – who?

Q.: Telling you, your military, what are they telling you, what is the timeline for the completion of that operation? And if I may ask you about today’s meeting of the Security Council on Yemen, but also the added bit about Saudi Arabia. President Trump says his military is locked and loaded, he seems to be contemplating some military action. What would be the reaction of Moscow if there was some sort of strike on either Iran or the Houthis?

A.: It is difficult to answer the question exactly because of the reasons I was eluding to when I presented at this briefing on the exact number both of the population of Idlib, of the number of IDPs, the number of rebels, including the terrorist groups, clearly terrorist groups. It is difficult because, indeed, we do not have reliable statistics on it. But figures that mostly circulate speak about around three million people within the Idlib province and we operate based on that premise, we do not have any other figures. We are not challenging it. I mean, we cannot confirm it but we proceed from that premise.

On fighters, including terrorist fighters, there are also discrepancies in numbers. 50 thousand to a certain point, some say 25 thousand in ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’. But what is even maybe more important is that a large bulk of those fighters in Idlib is constituted by the foreign terrorist fighters. And that represents a major problem. Because with the Syrians, it is easier, they are on their own homeland, even if they are from another province, they can go back through the mechanisms that proved to be working before in similar situations. But what to do with the foreign terrorist fighters, that is a big issue. And that makes this situation even more complicated. They have nowhere to go, so they may stay to the end.

Now, how long the operation will take. I hope you do not take our military for idiots, they will not share this information even with me at any cost. Now we have ceasefire in Idlib violated by jihadists. Every time there is a ceasefire violation, it has been initiated by the rebels. And as I told you at the press-conference on the beginning of our Presidency, ironically, it was also violated by the U.S. on the first day of the ceasefire, on August 31, when they air-raided to Ma’arrat Misrin and Kafr Khaya where, by the way, civilian casualties where also reported.

On the situation in the Gulf and the recent attacks, they were unanimously and unequivocally condemned by all SC Members, us included. It is inadmissible that civil objects and socio-economic infrastructure are being targeted. What we said was that we should not hurry with the conclusions because there are conflicting reports concerning who did it. ‘Ansar Allah’ took the responsibility; the United States is saying that they know for sure it was Iran. We do not have a clear picture, but the response was unequivocal by the SC.

On “locked and loaded”, of course, we are very concerned that incidents similar to these may provoke a larger conflict in the Gulf. The Gulf and the surrounding area of the Middle East have enough problems besides this, and the major conflict in the Gulf would be definitely a disaster. We would want to avoid it at any cost and calling all our partners to demonstrate restrain.

Q.: President Putin was in Turkey today to discuss the situation in Idlib with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts and he said that three nations – Russia, Turkey and Iran – need to make additional steps to eliminate terrorism. Can you tell us what these steps would be on the Russian side?

A.: I would like to correct you. President Putin not was in Turkey today, he is in Turkey today. I think that they started a trilateral meeting not so long ago because before that I had reports that they were in bilaterals. Of course, one of the major things that they will be discussing is the implementation of the Sochi Memorandum on the Idlib De-escalation Zone and how to effectively implement it. We know that there were issues with it and we really hope that the meeting, the summit in Turkey will provide us with the break-through on it. Each side has to go its part of the road. We all committed in Sochi and I hope will recommit in Turkey today to the need to deconflict Idlib while getting it rid of terrorists who really hijacked the province. I will not preempt the results. We are eagerly waiting to hear from Turkey on the conclusion of these negotiations and hope that they will contribute to the peaceful solution not just in Idlib, but in whole Syria.

Q.: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Of course, you have a long list of targets or sites in Idlib that are included in this coordinated information with the UN, right? So, do you mean now that Russia does not trust the accuracy of this list in general? How are you going to deal with the rest of the sites in Idlib in the near future? Obviously, operations are continuing, military operations are still happening on the ground. And do you believe that the agreement with Turkey should be a way for Turkey to use its influence in Idlib maybe to have a better information about what is happening on the ground?

A.: Military operation in Idlib is not developing right now. It is halted due to ceasefire. If there are sporadic military activities, that is, as I said, in response to terrorists not observing the ceasefire. Each party that adopted the Sochi Memorandum, which, by the way (and that is one of our major disagreements with some of out partners), included one important paragraph that besides deconfliction in Idlib, we are having those terrorist groups there which are not exempt from being fought, despite deconfliction. Unless they surrender, and then this is another arrangement. So, I think that each party in Idlib, the Russian military who are assisting the Turkish side to observe the ceasefire through supporting them through those 12, I think, posts that were established in the Idlib zone, Turkey itself who has an influence on these groups should go its part of the way to make the solution closer. I do not know what specific steps will be proposed or taken in Turkey today, but we really put a lot of hope on the results of today’s summit to see the progress. As I said, Idlib is home to a large number of civilians and it is in no one’s interest that these civilians are being in constant danger as they used to be before all this time.

Q.: Thank you very much, Ambassador. Two questions. First, Mr. Pedersen said that he was hoping for an announcement before world leaders arrive on Constitutional Committee for Syria. Do you have any update on those negotiations that have been very close for a while. Is there a possibility of the announcement this week? Secondly, I wonder if you could tell us what is happening with negotiations on the vote this afternoon on the Afghanistan resolution. We all know that there is a disagreement between China wanting a reference to the Belt Road initiative and the U.S. objecting and saying that it is not related to the mandate for the Afghan political mission. What is happening and what is Russia’s position?

A.: On the Constitutional Committee. I wish it was announced yesterday, but it was not. I will not dare to predict an exact date of that announcement. Like all of us, I would like to see it sooner rather than later. I can give you a heads-up that is partly an answer to your question. At the request of Mr. Pedersen we have moved consultations on political Syria from September, 19th to September, 30th. A lot of shuttle diplomacy is happening around this issue. Hopefully, we will be able to resolve a few last minor obstacles before the end of the month. Of course, I would be happy to participate in that kind of an announcement as the President of the UNSC. I will keep my fingers crossed so that it will happen before the end of the month. If it happens during the high-level week – the better.

On the resolution on the extension of the mandate of UNAMA in Afghanistan. Indeed, there were differences between some delegations in that resolution. I am absolutely convinced that we have to extend the mandate of the mission. In fact, tomorrow is the last day. So this is our deadline. We are going to the meeting on this issue in the afternoon. What will come out of the meeting, we will see after 3:00 PM. So you will be the first to hear it when we will finally go to a briefing in the UNSC.

Q.: Ambassador, Ban Ki-moon, current SG Antonio Guterres, Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and Staffan de Mistura – they all said there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Are you proving them wrong on one hand? Can Russia go an extra mile to give a chance to solve the issue in Idlib peacefully, saving the civilians, the carnage that could happen for 3 million people there? Thank you.

A.: We also, like the former and the current Secretaries-General are saying that there is no military solution to Syria. We are not that naive to believe that the military victory over terrorists which was a necessary thing would suffice to end the conflict altogether. That is why we are having the political track, that is why we are trying to establish the Constitutional Committee that would go into discussing what the Syrian future will be like, how it will be organized and arranged. As you know, Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process means nobody can tell Syrians how they should build their country after this bloody and awful conflict is over. I confirm - there is no military solution. Extra mile – yes. We are ready to go that extra mile. In no way do we have any plans, neither have Syrians, to jeopardize the civilians in Idlib. We fully understand how sensitive the issue is but if by “extra mile” you mean engaging in talks with terrorists, I think that is absolutely a non-issue. We started to notice recently that some of our partners, for example the United States, started to say that ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ is not that terrorist anymore, that they emancipated, they became more civilized, they organized a civil administration in Idlib, and that now they are running daily lives, etc. Of course, they are trying to change their colors but that does not change the terrorist essence of that organization. We are not negotiating with terrorists, but we will be doing anything to alleviate suffering of the civilian population, to solve the problem of Idlib by as non-intrusive means as possible.

Q.: In Idlib they have 4 million people, not 3 million people – that is first of all. Those people, how are they going to be protected?  They need food and medicals, but everything seems blocked. And also, we talk only about Idlib. How about Hama? They still have some terrorists, right? Can you tell us what is going on over there, please? About Hama too.

A.: Thank you for the new statistics. I do not know whether I can operate it, but I will definitely take that into account. Indeed, the problem with daily life of people in Idlib is a serious one. They need to get supplies. Part of that supplies comes from across the Turkish border through the so-called “trans-border assistance”. We sometimes question the effectiveness of that mechanism, because it is being done outside any knowledge of the Syrian authorities or whoever. They have no knowledge as to how this assistance is distributed. It is operated by the UN from Turkey and by UN partner organizations. But indeed, the problem is serious. The best way to solve it is to say goodbye to terrorists in Idlib, because they are the main obstacle that does not let people live a normal life.

I cannot provide you with detailed information on Hama, since I am not a military headquarters officer, and I do not know the exact situation on the ground. I can do it later privately after I have specifically asked for the information to answer your question.

Q.: Thank you, Ambassador. To what extent is Russia going to cooperate with the Board of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General on the attacks in Idlib? You are the President of the Security Council for this month and we heard voices today that the Security Council should take unified action regarding the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The scale and accuracy of those attacks indicates that a State actor is behind that. Do you agree?

A.: On the last one, I do not know, that is why I will not be presenting what I personally think about it. As I mentioned before, today we had said that we should not call names before an inquiry. We will be able to judge who it was and who stood behind only after there has been an inquiry. You know who claimed and you know what has been said. I dwelt on it initially when addressing one of the first questions today.

On Board of Inquiry, we see it primarily as an internal UN mechanism that should investigate how effective UN works on deconfliction arrangements, and with its partners in Syria; and to investigate how reliable the information is that it receives. As you said today, we do not simply express our doubts, but we provide you with facts that prove that at least some part of this information (to what extent – this I cannot tell you) is false. It calls for Security Council meetings, it calls for accusations, it leads to accusing the Russian and Syrian military of indiscriminate bombing. These are big questions for us as well. We tried not even to sow a grain of doubt, but to show you on the screen that the information is false on which the allegations are based. To what extent is it false? Let the Board of Inquiry inquire and find this out. If the information we provided to you is useful to them (and I think it is), the Board should use it as the basis for some of its deliberations. 

We have not been approached by anybody yet. When and if we are, we will first see what kind of terms of reference they have and how they are going to approach it. We will proceed from there.

Q.: I have a broad question. Next week we have the UN General Assembly, when all the world’s leaders are going to be here. What is Russia expecting of this General Assembly? What you think is going to be hot topics? And, since your President met with President Rouhani today, does Russia think Rouhani should consider meeting with Trump on the sidelines next week?

A.: I can only be sure that President Putin met President Rouhani today. Whether President Rouhani will meet with President Trump here in New York – on that I cannot speculate. We have different views on it. In our view, any direct contact between parties is good, but you know that both sides are conditioning this contact, and the conditions are not to be reconciled. Let us see what comes out of it. Maybe this will be the greatest sensation of the upcoming high-level week?

Now coming to the General Assembly as such, let us separate the high-level week from the rest of GA which will last until approximately the same day next year. The High-Level Week will host lots of high segment events starting from Climate Change Summit. Statements by the world’s leaders to be pronounced there will be closely followed by the entire international community.

As I said, during the High-Level Week we will be having two important meetings. Hopefully, we will remain spared of any emergency Security Council meetings, and will devote ourselves to the General Assembly.

If you ask about the Russian priorities, they are principally similar to those we promoted last year. We will be trying to work for the unifying agenda, work for multilateralism in this pluralistic world. We recently had a meeting on multilateralism, and quite an interesting one. It was organized by the outgoing President of the General Assembly with the participation of the Secretary-General, the President of ECOSOC, and myself. The fate of multilateralism is always an issue that should be discussed in a place that is home to multilateralism, namely – the United Nations.

Our initiatives relate to the issues of disarmament like non-deployment of force in space. We promote our initiative on cyber security. By the way, last week there was a good meeting of the open-ended Working Group on international information security. It witnessed active participation, and only by the promoters of the initiative, but of those countries that initially had opposed it. We finally agreed that both two mechanisms that exist – the open-ended WG and the Group of Experts – can and should be supplementary. So we are somewhat optimistic about how we will deal with the issue during this session of the UN GA.

We will have our traditional initiatives that address attempts to re-write history. History is such a thing that even the immediate past can become an issue for debate, let alone the past of the 20th century (not that distant either, by the way). So we will promote initiatives that would confirm the understanding of history that was sealed and codified when we were creating the United Nations. Of course, the whole year will run under the celebrations of the 75th anniversary. It will give us a good opportunity to assess what we have and have not achieved. I have devoted much time to studying as well as I can the history and the creation of the United Nations. There is a really interesting background of how the founding fathers approached the idea, how they were negotiating in Yalta, Potsdam, Dumbarton Oaks, San-Francisco, how the UN came into being. Sometimes it is a very touchy story I would say. We should learn and know more about it.

By the way, during the High-Level Week we will have an event dedicated to 110th anniversary of birth of former Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko who was one of the Founding Fathers of the United Nations. He was negotiating the Charter here, in San Francisco.  Let me avail of this opportunity to invite you to visit the exhibition which will be opened by S.Lavrov and Belarusian Foreign Minister V.Makei.

Thank you very much for coming. I really appreciate your time.

Slides. Syria