Russia calls for peaceful solution in coup-hit Niger

Russia calls for peaceful solution in coup-hit Niger

Foreign Ministry official says Moscow expects ECOWAS to choose diplomatic path for settlement with West African country

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) - Russia on Wednesday said it expects the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to settle its differences with coup-hit Niger through political and diplomatic means.

Leaders of the regional bloc would meet on Thursday to discuss next steps after Niger's coup leaders, who took over on July 26, defied a deadline to reinstate Mohammed Bazoum, the country's ousted president.

ECOWAS has condemned the coup, imposed economic and travel sanctions and had also agreed on a possible military action plan if the detained leader was not released and reinstated.

"We consider it extremely important to prevent further escalation of tension in Niger. We believe that an early restoration of law and order and the organization of an inclusive national dialogue are the only alternative way of settlement," said Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesman Alexey Zaytsev.

Zaytsev said situation in the West African country is "in general stable," state bodies continue their work in a routine manner, and the process to form a new government has been initiated.

"We support the mediation efforts being undertaken by the African community to assist Nigerians in overcoming the current crisis. At the same time, we proceed from the fact that the intervention of ECOWAS troops is unlikely to contribute both to the achievement of peace in Niger and to the stabilization of the situation in the subregion as a whole," he stressed.

Russia proceeds from the principle of “African problems — an African solution," he added.

According to the Russian Embassy in Mali, which is also responsible for Niger, no incidents involving Russians have yet been reported, and the diplomats maintain constant communication with the citizens.

"We still recommend that Russian citizens refrain from traveling to the Republic of Niger until the situation is fully normalized," he said.

Responding to Ukraine's accusations of Russia's involvement in orchestrating the coup, Zaytsev said: "Ukrainian politicians change their statements hundred times a day. Even Western partners, who often criticize Russia for no reason, have not said anything like that, so there is no ground here, it's just an empty statement."

- Jeddah meeting on Ukraine

Commenting on a weekend meeting on Ukraine in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Zaytsev said such events are meaningless without Russia's participation.

"It is noteworthy that at the meeting, the countries of the global South were in the minority, out of about 40 participants there were about 15 of them, several joined via video communication from their countries.Thus, two-thirds of the audience were Western countries -- directors of the Ukrainian crisis, suppliers of weapons, accomplices of escalation," he said.

Turning to remarks of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who said Washington "solved" all issues from the Russian part of the grain deal, Zaytsev said: "The American side continues hushing up the real state of affairs."

"It is hushed up that the maritime humanitarian corridor from Odesa to Istanbul was used by the Kyiv regime for terrorist attacks against Sevastopol, the Crimean Bridge, and Russian ships. They hush up the systematic blocking of the Russian agricultural import by illegal unilateral sanctions," he said.

Moscow continues to maintain its position -- first, the solution of problems on reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT, resuming the supply of spare parts, establishing logistics, insurance, restoring access of Russian companies to their foreign assets.

"Only after that, consideration of the possibility of resuscitating the Black Sea Grain Initiative in accordance with the stated humanitarian goals," he said.

- Imprisonment of Imran Khan

Commenting on the sentence to former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Zaytsev said it is "an internal affair of Pakistan."

"We expect that the general parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn in the country will be held peacefully, in accordance with Pakistani law. We are ready to develop partnership relations with Islamabad, regardless of who wins according to their results," he said.

On Aug. 5, Khan was arrested after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for corruption. He was subsequently disqualified from holding public office for five years.

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