MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Washington and Paris were disingenuous when they claimed that they had not sent their representatives to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in Sochi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders on Tuesday.
Invitations to attend the Sochi Congress as observers were sent to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China), as well as to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
"All the invited (countries), except for our western counterparts, sent their high-ranking representatives to attend the event," the Russian top diplomat noted.
At the same time, in Lavrov’s words, "the United States, France and the United Kingdom were dishonest when they claimed that they had not sent their representatives." "All the three countries sent diplomats from their embassies, though they said they would not attend the event as observers but would just work on the sidelines," the Russian foreign minister said.
"Nevertheless, a reasonable circle of players was present in Sochi, which means that the event encouraged our counterparts. Further developments depend on [United Nations Special Envoy for Syria] Staffan de Mistura. We are grateful to him for taking part in the Congress, he seems to have gained momentum to continue his efforts," Lavrov said.
Participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in late January, adopted a 12-point statement outlining their positions on their country’s future. The document stipulates that Syria should maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity, at the same time pointing out that the Syrian people hold the prerogative to determine the country’s future through elections
The Syrians also requested United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to assist them in setting up a constitutional commission, the mandate of which will be specified at the Geneva talks.
According to the organizers, the Sochi Syrian Congress brought together 1,511 delegates representing all strata of Syrian society. Most of the participants (94.5%) were Arabs but there were also Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, Abkhazians, Turkomans and the Druze. Key regional and global players had been invited to attend the event as observers.