Russia Eager to Restart Syria Crisis Talks

Russia Eager to Restart Syria Crisis TalksRussia Eager to Restart Syria Crisis Talks

Facing western criticism over the halt to Syria peace talks, Russia said on Friday it plans to present new ideas on how to restart peace efforts at a meeting of nearly 20 key nations on Feb. 11.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow hopes other members of the International Syria Support Group meeting in Munich will also “shoulder responsibility” in restarting talks between the government and opposition, AP reported.

Tensions were high during and after a closed Security Council briefing by Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, over who was to blame for this week’s suspension of the Syria talks.

Churkin accused unidentified western nations of encouraging an opposition walkout from the talks, saying they have “no moral or formal ground to criticize us”.

Britain and France blamed the halt on the government’s current offensive, backed by Russian airstrikes, against Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city.

After years of deadlock, foreign ministers from key nations supporting different sides in the Syria conflict—spurred by the United States and Russia—met in Vienna in November and called for a ceasefire and the start of negotiations in early January.

The previously divided Security Council endorsed the peace process in a unanimous resolution in mid-December that calls for “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” in Syria within six months and UN-supervised elections within 18 months under a new constitution. De Mistura said talks suspended on Wednesday would resume by Feb. 25 and Churkin said Russia is “encouraged” that the UN envoy reiterated this on Friday.

Looking ahead, Churkin said he has no doubt that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry “are going to do their utmost” to reenergize the International Syria Support Group at the ministerial meeting in Munich next week and make sure that talks will resume.