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Syrian negotiations committee leaning towards taking part in Sochi Congress - source

January 27, 0:40 UTC+3

The initiative to declare a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta may prove to be the decisive factor, a sourse close to the negotiation process noted

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VIENNA, January 27. /TASS/. The Syrian opposition’s negotiations committee is leaning towards taking part in the National Dialogue Congress in Sochi following a proposal to declare a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, a source close to the negotiation process told TASS.

"There are signs showing that the Syrian opposition’s committee will accept an invitation to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress," the source said, adding that "the initiative to declare a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta may prove to be the decisive factor."

Sources in the Syrian opposition’s negotiations committee said earlier that a decision concerning participation in the Sochi Congress would be made following a meeting in Vienna. At the same time, some members of the opposition delegation were skeptical about the event.

Around 19:00 local time on Friday, the opposition delegation returned to the United Nations headquarters in Vienna to hold a meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, which was their second meeting of the day. According to the source, the parties are still discussing the possibility of the opposition’s participation in the Sochi Congress.

Opposition members taking part in the Vienna meeting declined to answer the question as to whether they had accepted the invitation. While commenting on media reports concerning a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, the delegation’s spokesman Yahya al-Aridi said that talks on that matter were still underway.

On Thursday and Friday, Russian diplomats, led by Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department Sergei Vershinin, also participated in Vienna meetings. Besides, on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a telephone conversation with de Mistura.

The guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire - Russia, Iran and Turkey - announced at a meeting held in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana in December 2017 that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress would take place in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29-30. Participants are expected to work out a new Syrian constitution and discuss preparations for the UN-sponsored elections. Around 1,500 representatives of various Syrian political forces are expected to participate in the event.

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