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Lavrov says preparations for Syrian Congress on National Dialogue underway

November 07, 2017, 16:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

There has been no official announcement regarding the dates

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MOSCOW, November 7. /TASS/. Preparations are underway for the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue, its agenda and dates are under consideration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

According to earlier reports, the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue may take place in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 18.

"Preparations for the Congress are underway, it hasn’t been delayed because no dates were officially announced," Lavrov said.

"The media mentioned some dates, but there has been no official announcement. We are currently harmonizing the agenda, dates and other organizing aspects of the Congress with our partners in the Astana process, first and foremost, with Turkey and Iran [the two countries are the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire alongside Russia - TASS]," the Russian top diplomat added.

"At the same time, there have been contacts with all the Syrian forces, including the government and both the Syria-based and foreign-based opposition. Their response has been quite positive," Lavrov said. He also pointed out that among the Syrian opposition members, there were some "who adamantly refuse to hold talks with the government and reiterate demands for a change of regime, considering themselves the only representatives of the Syrian people."

"Such attitude may be found mostly in the foreign-based opposition and the reasons for that are clear: in the past, its members were cherished by those who sought to use them in order to spark a campaign against Bashar al-Assad, so they began to think highly of themselves," Lavrov noted.

"However, they should think about their people rather than about themselves," he went on to say. "The only way to resolve this crisis is to bring all the Syrian ethnic and religious groups, as well as political forces, together at the negotiation table, as required by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, which stipulates that the Syrian opposition and government should make agreements through a consensus. This is the goal that the Congress will have to achieve," the Russian foreign minister said.

He added that Moscow had been informing the US and the European counterparts, as well as the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, about the preparations for the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue.

"The political process has become more important recently as far as the Syrian conflict is concerned, since the fight against terrorism on Syria’s territory is nearing its end, so the global community should continue its efforts without interruption. We should step up our activities to create conditions for an inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue," Lavrov said.

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