Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses servicemen as he visits the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria December 11, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
Russia's foreign minister says a Moscow-proposed peace congress scheduled for next month is crucial for reaching a settlement in Syria and is not hampering United Nations-led talks.
Sergey Lavrov's statement on Wednesday comes a day after several dozen Syrian opposition groups issued a series of statements saying the talks in Russia's Sochi next month are an attempt to "circumvent" the U.N.-led peace process.
Lavrov, who was meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba on Wednesday, told Russian news agencies that the Sochi congress would lay the groundwork for U.N.-led talks. The Russian minister quoted "broad support" for the Sochi talks among Syrians and said Russia's goal is to gather together the largest number of opposition groups possible to help launch constitutional reform in the war-torn country.