Lavrov, de Mistura discuss Syrian National Dialogue Congress

Jan 28, 2018, 00:38
Lavrov, de Mistura discuss Syrian National Dialogue Congress

Russian Federation has invited more than 1,500 delegates to the two- day conference that the West views as a competing peace track to the UN-led effort with the aim of carving out a settlement that will be favorable to Moscow's ally Bashar al-Assad.The boycott by the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission (SNC) followed two days of United Nations talks in Vienna that failed to yield progress.

A spokesman for the main opposition said his group will boycott the Sochi conference.

Having regained the upper hand in the nearly seven-year civil war, President Bashar al-Assad appears far from ready to negotiate with foes at all, let alone step down as part of any peaceful solution as rebel groups have demanded.

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Jaberi Ansari, who also serves as the Iranian Foreign Minister's Special Assistant in Political Affairs, took part in a preliminary meeting in Sochi on January 20.

"We used the meeting to answer many questions, especially with regard to Sochi's Congress", al-Jaafari said, adding that "the results of the Congress will be the outcome of the dialogue between the Syrians themselves". The special envoy expects that both delegations are prepared for a substantive commitment and focus on the aspects defined in Resolution 2224 of the UN Security Council: inclusive governance, the Constitution, elections and the fight against terrorism.

The United Nations has sponsored eight rounds of fruitless peace talks in Geneva since the war began in 2011, a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions from their homes while dragging in world and regional powers.

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The cease-fire ended a two-month escalation between government forces and rebels in the Eastern Ghouta region.

De Mistura says he has received an invitation to attend the Sochi meeting and has been briefed on preparations for that event.

"This whole round in Vienna was supposed to be a crucial one, a test for commitment".

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It leaked on Friday as the latest round of UN-led talks was underway in Vienna, and its authenticity was confirmed to Reuters by three diplomatic sources. Under this mandate, de Mistura notes a new constitution will be drawn up in Geneva under the auspices of the so-called Geneva process.