MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Syrian president’s Political and Media Adviser Bouthaina Shaaban will address the opening ceremony of the Valdai Discussion Club’s conference dubbed Russia in the Middle East: Playing on Every Field.
According to diplomatic sources, a bilateral meeting between Lavrov and Zarif is possible. The two foreign ministers are expected to discuss relations between Russia and Iran, the situation surrounding the Iran nuclear deal and further steps aimed at resolving the Syria issue.
Conference organizers said that the event would focus on the influence that Russia has gained in the region, as well as on the country’s role in resolving crises.
"On the one hand, this conference is dedicated to the Middle East, but on the other hand, it is about our view on Russia’s role in the region," said Science Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at Russia’s Academy of Science Vitaly Naumkin, who is one of the conference organizers.
He went on to say that Russia’s policy regarding the Middle East was "indeed accurate." "Given our vast mediating experience, activities in conflict zones and cooperation with societies consisting of conflicting groups, we know how to maintain relations with Israel, Iran, Turkey, the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias," the expert noted.
Participants and goals
Apart from Lavrov, Zarif and Shaaban, United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and other politicians and experts will also take part in the conference.
Participants will particularly discuss issues concerning the post-war reconstruction of Syria, the prospects for resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict, the Yemen crisis and the Kurdish issue, ways to provide assistance to Libya, as well as the possibilities for easing tensions in relations between Iran and its neighbors.
Andrey Bystritsky, the chairman of the board of the Valdai Discussion Club’s Development and Support Foundation, told TASS that the agenda was aimed at covering as many issues facing this "complicated and interesting" region as possible. "We expect that this mosaic agenda will prove valuable and substantial precisely because it is mosaic," he said.
Bystritsky was also hopeful that "people who are dealing with practical issues will take the outcome of the discussion into consideration." "The conference will involve representatives of the leading countries of the region. In this particular case, there are no boundaries between intellectual knowledge and practical behavior. It does not mean that the issues under discussion will be resolved immediately but we know for sure that the debate will be taken into account while making decisions," the expert added.