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Russia, US and UN to discuss political settlement in Syria at meeting in Geneva

January 13, 2016, 6:15 UTC+3 GENEVA

Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, US - by Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Ann Patterson, and UN - by special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

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GENEVA, January 13. /TASS/. Representatives of Russia, United States and United Nations Organization will discuss the political settlement in Syria on Wednesday. The last meeting in this format took place on 11 December 2015.

Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, US - by Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Ann Patterson, and UN - by special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Representatives of UN Security Council permanent member countries will later hold a meeting with de Mistura in Geneva. The talks will be held at the level of envoys to UN in Geneva.

High-ranking diplomats will discuss the results of the first two rounds of talks at the ministerial level that took place on October 30 and November 14 in Vienna. Though the agreements reached at Vienna consultations were enforced by a UN Security Council resolution on December 18, the task of coordinating the lists of opposition and terrorists has not been completed yet.

Wednesday’s meeting in fact precedes intra-Syrian talks scheduled for January 25 in Geneva.

Atmosphere and attitudes

The year of 2016 which was expected to give an impetus to the process of political settlement in Syria has started with not so positive developments. Serious disagreements arose between several external players as Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic ties with Iran.

These disagreements complicate the resolution of the Syrian conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. "It hampers the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis and the fight against terrorism, as well as the process of halting the inflow of refugees to Europe, that much is certain," Putin said in an interview with German daily Bild.

The external opposition that has not yet created a united delegation with internal opponents of the regime blasts Damascus with new criticism and sets preconditions for starting a dialogue with the government of President Bashar Assad. The Syrian authorities are also accused of blocking the city of Madaya where people are dying from starvation.

Opposition members even make statements that threaten the whole political process. In particular, some representatives of the opposition said that negotiations cannot start until Syrian cities are subjected to foreign bombings. However, they did not mention support provided to terrorists from the outside.

Political reforms

Russia has from the very start spoken in favor of simultaneous efforts in launching a political process and fighting against terrorism.

"I believe political reforms are needed so much there (in Syria). The first step in that direction should be to develop and adopt a new Constitution," Putin said, adding that "it is a complicated process."

After that, early presidential and parliamentary elections should be held in Syria on the basis of the new Constitution, the Russian president said. "It is the Syrian people themselves who must decide who and how should run their country. This is the only way to achieve stability and security, to create conditions for economic growth and prosperity, so that people can live in their own homes, in their homeland, rather than flee to Europe," the Russian leader said.

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