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Senior Russian diplomat, opposition group leader discuss Syria settlement

May 13, 16:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Mikhail Bogdanov and Qadri Jamil "discussed a set of issues in the Syrian settlement, including with the context of the signing of a memorandum to set up de-escalation zones"

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MOSCOW, May 13./TASS/. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and the chairman of the Syrian opposition’s Moscow group, Qadri Jamil, discussed on Saturday the Syrian settlement, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.

It said Qadri Jamil and Bogdanov, who is also Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, "discussed a set of issues in the Syrian settlement, including with the context of the signing of a memorandum to set up de-escalation zones, inked in Astana on May 4, as well as the start of a new round of intra-Syrian talks under the UN auspices".

De-escalation zones

On May 4, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria. Under a memorandum signed at the talks in Astana, the four zones are Idlib province and some parts of neighboring provinces (Aleppo, Latakia and Hama), an area north of Homs, Damascus’s suburb Eastern Ghouta, and a number of provinces in southern Syria - Daraa and Al-Quneitra.

In those areas, combat operations, including flights by military aircraft, are outlawed as of May 6. The memorandum was concluded for six months with chances of automatic prolongation for another six months. Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that the fight against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (outlawed in Russia - TASS) would be continued inside and around those zones.

Intra-Syrian talks

A new round of intra-Syrian talks will be held in Geneva from May 16 to 19, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura told a briefing on Thursday.

"We are preparing intra-Syrian new round of talks next week. They will be starting on the 16th. We are aiming as a target towards the 19th," the envoy said. He said a new round "will be a rather business-like, rather short comparing to other meetings".

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