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US observers not to attend Syrian National Dialogue Congress, says embassy

January 29, 18:21 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The US will not take part in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, the US embassy spokesperson says

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MOSCOW, January 29./TASS/. The US will not take part in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Russia’s Sochi as observer, Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Maria Olson said on Monday.

"The United States will not be attending the Sochi Congress as Observer," she said.

"We note that the Syrian Negotiations Committee has announced that it will not attend and respect that decision," she explained. "Our collective focus must remain on the UN-led political process in Geneva and we will remain engaged with the UN and other parties, including Russia, to encourage all possible efforts to advance the political track as called for in UNSCR 2254 and in the Da Nang Statement issued by Presidents Trump and Putin," she said.

Maria Olson stressed that the US is "closely engaged with the United Nations, key likeminded countries, Russia and the Syrian Negotiations Committee (SNC), to ensure that the authority of the United Nations, in accordance with UNSCR 2254, to establish and determine the mandate, structure and specific composition of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva is respected by all parties".

"Secretary General Guterres has spoken with the [US] Secretary [of State Rex Tillerson] and we understand his decision, on the basis of firm and binding commitments made to the Secretary General by Russia regarding Geneva and the authority of the UN, to send his Special Representative for Syria to the Sochi Congress organized by Russia," the spokesperson added.

The Congress is taking place in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29-30. According to the organizers, around 1,600 participants representing all strata of the Syrian society, have been invited to the event. Most of the participants are Arabs (94.5%) but there are also Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, Abkhazians, Turkomans and the Druze. All the main regional and global players have been invited to attend the event as observers.

The Congress is particularly aimed at setting up a commission to draw up a new Syrian constitution.

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