Syria warring sides could attend Moscow talks: Russian diplomat
A senior Russian diplomat says representatives from the Syrian government and opposition groups could partake in upcoming peace negotiations in the Russian capital.
Moscow “will invite opposition representatives to a consultation in Moscow” next week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Tuesday.
Bogdanov also noted that the meeting “will possibly be with the participation of government representatives.”
The forthcoming talks are in continuation of Russia’s efforts aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria, he added.
“There are new tasks are on the agenda. These tasks were discussed and coordinated in [the Austrian capital city of] Vienna,” the Russian official stated.
On October 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu met in Vienna and discussed the issue of Syria.
Also on October 30, top diplomats from 17 countries, including Iran, as well as envoys from the United Nations and the European Union, also gathered in Vienna for talks over the Syrian conflict. It was the first time that the Islamic Republic attended such negotiations on Syria.
The participants agreed on respecting Syria’s unity and sovereignty as well as eradicating extremist groups operating in the Arab country. However, they remained at loggerheads over the role President Bashar al-Assad would play in Syria’s political process.
The foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has so far claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s population within or out of its borders.
Further meetings on Syria
In a relevant development on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iyad Madani, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), discussed on the phone the OIC participation in the Syria peace talks.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also told reporters on Tuesday that Lavrov and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will meet in Moscow on Wednesday over the conflict plaguing Syria.
De Mistura had emphasized on Monday that “all Syrians,” including representatives of the government of President Assad and the opposition, should be involved in the diplomatic efforts to end the crisis.
“…I think it is very important that everyone, all Syrians should be involved and associated,” he said after a meeting with some senior Syrian officials in Damascus.
De Mistura said he came to Damascus to discuss “the aspects of the Vienna talks because the Syrian government was not present,” adding that he has been trying to prepare the ground for the Syrian sides to get involved in the diplomatic initiative.
Many, including the government in Damascus, say foreign countries such as the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are behind the crisis in Syria by supporting the militants operating in the Arab country.