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Russian, Turkish FMs Discuss Syria Sochi Congress on Eve of Vienna Talks

Russian, Turkish FMs Discuss Syria Sochi Congress on Eve of Vienna Talks

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018 - 18:45
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed by telephone the latest preparations for the Sochi Syria talks. (Reuters)

The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey held telephone talks on Wednesday on the upcoming peace congress on Syria scheduled for Sochi next week.

Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and Turkey’s Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the latest preparations for the talks that are set for January 29 and 30, said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The Syrian opposition has criticized the Sochi meeting, saying that it undermines United Nations-sponsored peace efforts in Geneva.

The next round of UN-led talks will be held in Vienna on Thursday.

France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday there was no sign of a political solution for Syria other than the Vienna talks and they were the “last hope”.

“Today, there is no political perspective that presents itself, other than - and it’s the last hope - the meeting that will be held in Vienna tomorrow under the auspices of the United Nations, where the belligerents will be present and where we hope a peace agenda will be mapped out,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers in Paris.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, invited the Syrian regime and opposition to a two-day meeting in the Austrian capital with the goal of addressing issues related to a new constitution.

“By definition I am optimistic...It’s a very critical moment. Very, very critical,” De Mistura told reporters in Vienna, adding that both sides had promised to send full delegations.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Lavrov on Wednesday about Moscow’s role in ensuring “the Syrian regime plays a constructive role in the UN-led Geneva process,” a State Department statement said.

On Tuesday evening the British, French, Jordanian, Saudi and US, foreign ministers met in Paris to see how to give extra support to De Mistura and consult on how to handle Russia’s planned gathering in Sochi.

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