Russia says ready to work with anti-ISIS coalition if it respects Syria's sovereignty

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Moscow on Nov 18, 2015.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Moscow on Nov 18, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia is ready to work with the Western coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) if its members respect Syria's sovereignty, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday (Nov 19).

"We...are ready for practical cooperation with those countries which are part of the coalition and are ready to develop with them such forms of coordination that of course would respect Syria's sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership," Mr Lavrov said in an interview with state-run Radio of Russia.

"I am convinced that such forms can be found if we take a pragmatic approach."

Russia first launched air strikes on Syria in September at the request of its long-standing ally President Bashar al-Assad, while a United States-led coalition of countries opposed to the Syrian strongman is conducting a separate air campaign against ISIS.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks on Friday, French President Francois Hollande called this week for a broad anti-ISIS coalition, echoing an earlier call made by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin made at the UN General Assembly in September.

Mr Hollande said he would next week discuss his proposal with US President Barack Obama and Mr Putin, who has ordered his navy in the Mediterranean to establish contact with its French counterparts and work together "as allies".

Mr Putin has been seeking to capitalise on shifting dynamics in the West following the Paris carnage and the bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai in October, arguing that Russia and the West should unite against a common enemy.

Mr Lavrov said he first detected a change in the Western position after Mr Putin called for a broad coalition to fight the ISIS militants in Syria.

"Our Western partners realised the lack of prospects for the approach that many of them had taken."

On Wednesday, Russia submitted a revised draft UN resolution on fighting the ISIS group that France said could be partially included in its own Security Council proposal.