In a move that aims to convince some Syrian opposition parties that asked for international sponsorship as a condition to attend the Congress of Syrian Peoples in Sochi at the end of January, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov alluded on Monday that the Congress will be held under the patronage of the international community.
In an interview with Ria Novosti news agency, Bogdanov said that that the guarantor states on the cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria, including Iran, Russia and Turkey, are holding consultations on the agenda of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.
“Separate meetings with (head of the Syrian regime Bashar) Assad are currently being held,” the ministry official stated, adding that the opinion of the Western partners, including the US, will be taken into consideration on the issues which will be discussed at the Congress.
He said that Russia was even ready to invite the US to the Congress, “if Washington expresses its desire to participate.”
He added that the invitations to the Congress would be first sent to UN representatives to make clear that the entire operation is conducted under the patronage of the United Nations, and the support of the international community.
On Saturday, Bogdanov stressed that his country calls upon all Syrian parties to participate in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.
Russia’s announcement deepened division among members of the Syrian opposition and divided it into two parties: the first refuses to participate in the Congress because Russia is a “partner in the war and cannot be objective,.”
The second asks for an international umbrella as a condition to attend the talks, describing its participation as a “support for the Geneva path and not a substitute for it.”
Political advisor to the High Negotiations Committee Namrud Suleiman told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that the UN and Russia had engaged in serious talks since last week concerning the Sochi meeting.
“I do not think Moscow will hold the Congress in the absence of international cover,” he said.