As talks on a political resolution of the conflict in Syria continue in Geneva, the Syrian opposition seeks to meet with Russian officials in an attempt to affect Moscow’s pro-Damascus stance.
The UN-backed negotiations started out on Thursday between the Syrian government and the representatives of the armed and political opposition.
The head of the Saudi-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main opposition group at the talks, said his team was likely to meet with Russian delegates on the sidelines of the talks on Tuesday.
He urged Russia to put pressure on Damascus and drive it towards the opposition’s prime demand of discussing political transition. This is while the government insists the talks should start with an agreement on the need to fight terrorism.
We hope that Russia “will not bet on one person,” he said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and that it “will provide real and positive support to the political process so that we could reach an appropriate solution.”
“The opposition wants to see the Russians to tell them to put pressure on the government,” Reuters quoted a Western diplomat as saying.
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The Geneva talks are the fourth to take place under the UN auspices and the first since last April. The negotiations are aimed at bringing an end to foreign-sponsored militancy that has been gripping Syria since 2011.
During the April discussions, the HNC walked out, alleging continuous fighting in Syria and lack of progress on “humanitarian issues.”
Also on Monday, the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura met separately with government and opposition delegations.
He seeks to get the two sides to accept an agenda based on Security Council Resolution 2254, focusing initially on a new constitution as well as UN-supervised elections.