Russia wants to cooperate with the United States to rebuild Syria

Men walk on a road amid wreckage, after three blasts ripped through Aleppo's main Saadallah al-Jabari Square...Men walk on a road amid wreckage, after three blasts ripped through Aleppo's main Saadallah al-Jabari Square, and a fourth was reported a few hundred metres away near Bab al-Jinein, on the fringes of the Old City, where rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been fighting, October 3, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Explosions in government-controlled districts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 70 on Wednesday, Lebanon's Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV reported, quoting a Syrian official source. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 people were killed and 90 wounded, citing medical sources. REUTERS/SANA (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

A Russian memo to US government indicated that Russia had used a channel of communication with the US military leadership to propose cooperation in the reconstruction process of Syria and bring refugees back home.

According to the memo, the Russian proposal was sent on July 19 by Valery Gerasimov, Chief of General Staff of the Russian army to US General Joseph Danford, US Joint Chief of Staff.

The Russian plan, which has not been disclosed before, received a cold reception in Washington.

The memo said US policy could only support such efforts if a political solution was found to end the seven-year-old Syrian war, including elections under the auspices of the United Nations.

The proposal reveals how Russia, which helped turn the war in favor of Syria’s central state, is now pressing Washington and others to help rebuild the areas under its control.

Such an effort would probably strengthen President Assad’s grip on power.

“The proposal says the Syrian government lacks the equipment, fuel and other materials and funding needed to rebuild the country in order to absorb the return of refugees”, the memo said.

The proposal concerned only areas under the control of the Syrian Government.

The United States adopted a policy in 2011 to topple President Assad, but the Syrian legitimate state, with the support of Iran and then Russia, restored control of the territory.

The United States has drawn up a line on reconstruction aid, saying it must be linked to a comprehensive process involving UN-sponsored elections as well as a “political transition” in Syria.

Danford office declined to comment on contacts with Gerasimov.

“In accordance with the rules, the generals agreed to keep the details of their secret talk”, said spokeswoman Captain Paula Dunn

Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian Defense Ministry responded to a request for comment.

“The United States will only support the return of refugees if they are safe, voluntary and with dignity”, said the memorandum, which focused mainly on the Russian plan on Syria.

According to a UN estimate, the reconstruction of Syria will require a massive effort of at least $ 250 billion.

But the US government memo stressed that the Russian proposal was not a “result” of the talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and warned that “Russian officials are trying to present the matter differently”.

“Russian diplomats and other officials have participated in a fierce campaign to describe the initiative in other capitals in a way that suggests that it is the outcome of the US-Russia summit in Helsinki, which is not true”, the memo said.

The memorandum added that a letter attached to the proposal, sent from Russia to Danford, recommends that the United States, Russia and Jordan change the purpose of a monitoring center for the cease-fire agreement in 2017 to “form a joint committee to implement the plan for the reconstruction and return of refugees”, Of 650,000 Syrian refugees.

The letter added that the Russian letter also suggests that the United States and Russia form a joint group to finance the renovation of infrastructure in Syria.

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