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Russian FM to meet UN Syria envoy amid diplomatic push

AFP , Tuesday 3 Nov 2015
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Photo: Reuters)
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Moscow on Wednesday as diplomats try to keep up a push aimed at ending the bloody war.

"The main subject will be the political process in Syria and starting a genuine dialogue between Damascus and the Syrian opposition," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP on Tuesday.

Lavrov and de Mistura met Friday in Vienna alongside the top diplomats from 17 other key international players on the Syrian conflict, including the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia, in the broadest push yet to end the four-year conflict.

The participants -- who did not include any representatives of the Syrian government or its opponents -- agreed to ask the UN to broker a peace deal between the regime and opposition to clear the way for a new constitution and UN-supervised elections.

But divisions remain on the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, with Russia and Iran resisting Western and Saudi pressure to force the Syrian leader from power.

De Mistura has since been to Damascus to brief the government on the talks and called for new ceasefires on the ground to build on the diplomatic efforts.

Russia said Tuesday that it could host a meeting between the Syrian government and unspecified members of the opposition next week in Moscow.

"Next week we will invite them to Moscow for consultations," deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"There is no issue with the government, they said so a long time ago," he said.

"Now we are in contact with the representatives of different opposition groups to get them to come to Moscow."

Russia said that it handed Saudi Arabia and the United States a list at the Vienna talks of dozens of Syrian opposition figures with whom it is liasing in a bid to thrash out who each side thinks represents the factious opposition.

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