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Russian envoy says Assad seeking out new roads to national reconciliation

Assad confirmed that Damascus was committed to launching political reform

MOSCOW, October 30. /TASS/. Syrian President Bashar Assad is set to launch dialogue involving various representatives of the Syrian society, Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said in an interview with Rossiya 24 and RT TV channels.

Lavrentyev, who heads Russia’s delegation to the talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, said: "Last week, we visited Damascus, where we held a substantive discussion with Syrian President Bashar Assad." The goal of the visit was to assess the situation in the country and learn about the Syrian government plans for settling the crisis, he said, stressing: "It is very important that Bashar Assad is determined to search for the ways of national reconciliation."

Speaking to journalists, Assad confirmed that Damascus was committed to launching a political reform, envisaging drafting a new constitution and holding parliamentary and presidential elections in line with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254.

The diplomat said the upcoming talks in Astana on the Syrian settlement will focus on the mine clearing effort in the Syrian cities.

"The humanitarian demining is crucial given what is happening on the ground and what we consider as part of efforts to liberate Deir ez-Zor and Mayadin. Almost every building is mined there and great efforts are needed to create conditions for the return of local citizens to peaceful life," he said.

Lavrentyev expressed hope that the issues currently on the agenda will be solved "at least somehow to increase trust among the conflicting parties."

"Time will show how we can do this now. We are working on this now very actively," he explained.

The seventh international meeting on Syria is being held in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana on October 30-31. During the talks, its participants plan to endorse the regulations on a working group on releasing hostages, prisoners, transferring the bodies and searching for missing individuals. The parties are also expected to discuss efforts to combat international terrorism and adopt a joint statement on humanitarian demining in Syria.