Russia to host talks on Syria next month

Published on Friday, 22 December 2017 21:55
Written by The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed Friday to hold Syria peace talks in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi next month, a move that the U.N. Special envoy for Syria said should be assessed based on its contribution to the mandated political process under the United Nations in Geneva.

Russian news reports cited Kazakh diplomat Aidarbek Tumanov who said that during Friday’s meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, the parties agreed to hold the so-called Congress for National Dialogue in Sochi on Jan. 29-30.

Earlier attempts to convene the congress were thwarted by disagreements over possible participants, primarily the involvement of the Kurds which Turkey has opposed. Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentyev told the Interfax news agency that the parties have yet to agree on the list of participants.

In an apparent concession to Turkey, Lavrentyev said that the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, wouldn’t be invited to take part in the Sochi talks, but that “quite a few” Kurdish representatives will attend.

“We have tried to have the Kurds broadly represented but also make sure that it doesn’t annoy our Turkish colleagues,” he said, according to Interfax. Lavrentyev added that the full list of participants will be completed after talks with Turkey and Iran.

Tumanov said that the three countries have also decided to set up a working group that will deal with prisoner exchanges and agreed on the need to clear Syrian territory of mines.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Friday, 22 December 2017 21:55. Updated: Friday, 22 December 2017 21:57.