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Lavrov, Zarif Discuss Preparations for Sochi Syria Congress

Lavrov, Zarif Discuss Preparations for Sochi Syria Congress

Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 - 08:15
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held telephone talks on Tuesday with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif on the preparations for the Sochi-hosted Syrian national dialogue congress set for the end of the month.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two officials discussed latest international developments, especially the Syrian settlement.

The guarantor countries agreed during the Astana 8 talks to hold the Sochi meeting on January 29. Various media had however predicted that the congress may be postponed.

Lavrov, during his annual press conference held on Monday, was vague in pinpointing the date of the Sochi meeting.

Russia’s RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday that the list of invitees to the talks has been set and the invitations were distributed. There has been no official confirmation or denial of the report.

Jamal Suleiman of the Cairo platform of Syrian High Negotiations Committee told Asharq Al-Awsat that it did not receive an invitation.

On whether the platform will attend the talks or not, he remarked: “We have the same information about the congress that is being circulated in the media… so far it does not look promising.”

“We have therefore not yet taken a final decision on whether to attend or not,” he added.

He revealed that arrangements are being made to dispatch a negotiations committee to Moscow to obtain official clarifications from Russian officials.

The committee will be comprised of members of the Riyadh 2 Syrian opposition meeting that was held in late 2017.

The same committee had embarked on a foreign tour that included Saudi Arabia, Egypt and New York and it will conclude its mission in Russia, Suleiman told RIA Novosti.

The date of the Russia trip has not been set yet and it will likely take place before the ninth round of the Geneva talks.

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