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Diplomat says meeting in Astana should be of help to Geneva talks

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova Artyom Korotayev/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova
© Artyom Korotayev/TASS

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. The meeting on Syria in Astana on March 14-15 should be of great help to new intra-Syrian consultations in Geneva, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said.

"On the whole, we are satisfied with the way the Astana process is going on, with a trio of the ceasefire guarantors - Russia, Turkey, and Iran - acting as a driving force," the diplomat said. "The agreements reached in this format have made it possible to significantly reduce the level of violence in Syria and contribute to the improvement of the humanitarian situation."

"The parties have been able to expand the area and consolidate the ceasefire, involve an additional number of armed groups located in southern Syria in the political process," she noted.

"We proceed from the assumption that the new meeting in Astana will be of great help to the fifth round of the UN-backed intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva," Zakharova emphasized.

 "We hope that, in the course of preparations for new contacts in Geneva, another step will be taken towards forming a well-represented Syrian opposition delegation, which would take into account the vision of all ethno-confessional segments of the Syrian society and whose ability to reach agreements would not give rise to doubts." 

US coalition meetings on Syria 

Moscow does not participate in the US-led coalition members’ meetings on Syria, Maria Zakharova has noted.

"There are a lot of formats dedicated to the Syrian crisis that we participate in. But there are also formats that we do not engage in.

"It is no sensational news," Zakharova said commenting on the media reports saying that Russia will not take part in the US-led coalition’s ministerial meeting scheduled to be held on March 22. "We have never participated in such meetings," she added.

Acting Spokesman for the US Department of State Mark Toner announced at a briefing earlier that on March 22, in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would host a ministerial meeting of the 68-nation coalition combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. According to Toner, Russia will not participate in the meeting since it is not a member of the US-led coalition.