Syria peace talks may be held in Moscow next month
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says next month’s peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition could take place in Moscow.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday that the talks are set to be held sometime after January 20, adding that the negotiations would involve representatives from the Syrian government, domestic opposition, and foreign-based Syrian opposition.
He further noted that the talks will be held in two stages. In the first stage, the Syrian opposition groups will come together and then representatives from Syria will join the talks in the second stage.
He added that the Syrian government could be represented by Foreign Minister Walid al- Muallem or other officials, but President Bashar al-Assad himself is unlikely to participate.
“It’s hard to exclude anything, but in this case the presidential level doesn’t fit the format of the consultative meeting,” he said.
Moscow has recently offered to arrange peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition without preconditions.
Assad also voiced support for Russia’s efforts to broker peace in his war-ravaged country.
The last round of the talks between a Syrian government delegation and the opposition were mediated by the United Nations in the Swiss city of Geneva in February. The talks came to an end without any tangible results.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fuelled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, according to the UN.
The Takfiri ISIL militants have seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, terrorizing and killing people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians, in the areas they are controlling.