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Sochi congress launches dialogue between Syrians — opposition’s Moscow group

January 30, 18:45 UTC+3 SOCHI

The chairman of the Syrian opposition’s Moscow group warns against paying much attention to reports on contradictions between the participants in the forum

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SOCHI, January 30. /TASS/. The Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi has launched a dialogue between the Syrians, Qadri Jamil, Chairman of the Syrian opposition’s Moscow group, told reporters on the sidelines of the congress on Tuesday.

"The [dialogue] process has begun, and this is very important for Syrians," Jami said. "Therefore, we will make every effort to make sure that this process continues."

The politician also noted that the Sochi forum gives much hope but warned against "raising the bar of expectations."

According to the organizers, a total of 1,511 delegates representing all strata of Syrian community have arrived at the forum. All major regional and international external players were invited to take part in the event as observers. One of the objectives of the congress is setting up a commission to hammer out Syria’s new Constitution.

Drawing up Syria’s Constitution

Jamil described the distribution of power between the center and the regions, along with tighter public control over the government machine, as one of the most important issues for drafting the Constitution. He warned against paying to much attention to reports on contradictions between the participants in the forum.

"I have seen many opposition members, and their opinions often differ. Syria’s residents can be opponents, this happens in every country. However, they should not turn into enemies and shoot each other," Jamil said.

"The principal result is the fact that Syrians sat down to talk to each other," he stressed. "It is only natural when people argue and are at odds with each other but achieve results. There were some confrontational moments, some of our comments were not taken into account by other parties. However, the most important thing now is to formalize the organizational framework for discussing the constitution."

Jamil would not specify how the process of drafting the constitution will be formalized, stressing that it is necessary to wait for the results of the congress.

The Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi was convened at Moscow’s initiative backed by Iran and Turkey acting as Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations, along with Russia.

The Moscow platform of the Syrian opposition insists that now that Islamic State has been defeated in Syria the United States has no grounds to continue its military presence in that country, he said. 

"The Americans have no grounds to stay in Syria but it is typical of them to come to certain territories and never leave them," he said, adding that the Moscow platform insists that not only the Americans, but all other foreign countries withdraw their troops from Syria.

He was critical about the US’ attempts to impose its vision of the solution to the Syrian crisis. "[US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson’s initiatives concerning the procedure of work on the constitution and organization of elections (the January 12 plan of the so-called group of five, namely the US, the UK, France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia), as a matter of fact, are an idea of a new mandate, but a United Nations mandate," he said.

A group of five nations issued an unofficial document on the settlement of the Syrian crisis at their meeting in Washington on January 12. Its text has not been made public, but the Al Mayadeen television channel said citing its own sources that the document was about, in particular, turning Syria into a parliamentary and presidential republic, decentralization and carrying out reforms and post-war reconstruction processes under external control. According to the TV network, the plan was presented to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said following the January 12 meeting of the five nations that it pursued unclear aims and had yielded no visible results. "The main criterion of such meetings for us is their efficiency and result. We don’t know what was the added value of that Washington meeting, and which is most important - it is either unclear what its aims were," she said.

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