Diplomatic Consultations Toward Syrian Peace

Iran, Russia, and Turkey, the three sponsors of the congress, hope the talks in Sochi could compensate for the lack of progress in UN-brokered talks to end Syria’s seven-year war
Hossein Jaberi AnsariHossein Jaberi Ansari

A senior assistant to the Iranian foreign minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy for Syria in the Russian city of Sochi on Monday to discuss the latest developments in the war-torn Arab country.

The meeting between Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Iran's senior representative in Syria talks, and Alexander Lavrentiev was held ahead of a new round of Syrian peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition, involving Tehran, Moscow, and Ankara, Fars News Agency reported.

The latest round of peace talks are being held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday and Tuesday under the banner of Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which aims to bring all the concerned sides in the devastating war to the negotiating table.

Prior to his Sochi's trip, Ansari met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday where they discussed the most recent developments in the Arab country, ISNA reported.

Iran, Russia, and Turkey, the three sponsors of the congress, hope the talks could compensate for the lack of progress in UN-brokered talks to end Syria's seven-year war.

The three countries have coordinated the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria in a separate initiative named Astana Peace Process, which could drastically reduce fighting on the ground.

***UN Envoy

The United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is in Sochi to attend the talks. Some 1,600 people representing a wide range of Syria's political forces will also be in attendance.

However, the Saudi-based High Negotiations Committee and the Syrian Negotiation Commission, have boycotted the talks and Syria's main Kurdish militant group has said it will be absent over the ongoing Turkish incursion into northern Syria against Kurdish militants.

Moscow said on Monday the absence of some representatives of the Syrian opposition would not be a serious setback for the conference.

"The fact that some representatives of the processes currently taking place in Syria are not participating is unlikely to stop this congress from going ahead and is unlikely to seriously undermine the importance of the congress," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, Reuters reported.  

The congress in Sochi is not designed to replace, but rather to boost the Syrian peace process, namely the UN-sponsored Geneva talks, which have stalled for years, largely due to the insistence of some Syrian opposition representatives upon unrealistic preconditions before engaging in talks with the country's government.

The congress gained traction after the defeat of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Syria by government forces and its allies late last year.

Creating a roadmap for Syria and a new constitution are among the main goals of the congress.

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