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Top diplomat: Main task in Syrian settlement is to resume talks, involve armed opposition

January 20, 2017, 15:11 UTC+3

The intra-Syrian negotiations have been suspended since April

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The main task in the Syrian settlement now is to stop the pause in negotiations and involve the armed opposition in these talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Kazakhstani counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov on Friday.

"Unfortunately, the [inter-Syrian] negotiations have been suspended since April. The main task is to resume these negotiations and involve those who represent the armed opposition in these talks," the minister said.

"As for the expected results of the negotiations, we expect, first of all, that this will seal the inclusion of the armed opposition in the inter-Syrian negotiation process," the Russian foreign minister said.

"I wouldn’t guess now about what the government and the opposition will specially agree. We are not imposing anything on them," Lavrov said.

"Our task is to act jointly with the Turks, Iranians and, of course, our friends from Kazakhstan, UN representatives, and we hope that the Donald Trump administration will also be able to delegate a Middle East expert, considering that Russia and the United States are co-chairmen of the International Syria Support Group, to create conditions for the commencement of direct negotiations between the government, the opposition and the armed opposition," Lavrov said.

Already this alone will be the most important achievement because "there have not been any direct talks between the government and the opposition until now," the Russian foreign minister said.

The upcoming talks between the Syrian government and the opposition were announced after a meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow on December 20, 2016. The ministers then spoke in support of establishing truce on the entire territory of Syria. The composition of the participants in the inter-Syrian talks in the Kazakhstani capital has not been disclosed yet.

The talks are expected to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and the army and the armed groups of the opposition. The negotiations will focus on the issues of maintaining the ceasefire in Syria.


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