Monday, August 20, 2018 | ePaper

Syria `congress` will boost peace talks: Putin

  • Print


Russia's President Vladimir Putin walks with his counterparts Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Hassan Rouhani of Iran after a joint news conference in Sochi, Russia on Wednesday.

AFP, Sochi :
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday there was a need for compromise on all sides to end Syria's civil war, announcing plans for a congress of regime and opposition figures he insisted would reinvigorate a hobbled peace process.
Such a meeting between representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition should happen soon, Putin said, having agreed the move at a much-touted summit with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
utin, who had met with Assad on Monday, said the six-year conflict was entering "a new stage" but that the Syrian leader would not be exempt from having to bend if the war is to end.
"It is obvious that the reform process will not be simple, it will require compromise and concessions from all parties, including obviously the Syrian government," Putin said after two hours of talks with Rouhani and Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Russian, Turkish and Iranian coordination had been a key factor in lessening hostilities, he added.
The three leaders agreed to call on regime and opposition parties to "participate in the Congress of Syrian national dialogue in Sochi in the near future," a joint statement said. The date and precise list of invitees, however, remains to be decided. The initiative, first proposed last month in Astana, has so far not taken off as Syrian opposition groups have rejected it, a problem that looks difficult to overcome.
Erdogan on Wednesday had fumed at the prospect of inviting Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) fighting in northern Syria, saying "we cannot consider a terrorist gang with blood on their hands as a legitimate actor."
Putin however said the congress would be a "stimulus" for activating UN peace talks in Geneva, which have stalled despite numerous rounds.
He added that there was a "real chance" to end Syria's war which monitors say has killed more than 330,000 people.
Russia claims credit for more or less ending the military conflict through its intervention but Western governments have accused it of carrying out war crimes, including the bombing of hospitals. Regardless, the various sides in Syria are far from reaching a political agreement.
Ahead of Wednesday's summit in Sochi, Putin discussed Syria with US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, among other leaders. Syria is divided between forces loyal to Kremlin-allied strongman Assad, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and several jihadist groups and rebel units.
Multiple rounds of talks hosted by the UN have failed to make a breakthrough. Other initiatives including those spearheaded by Moscow have also failed to bear much fruit.
But with regime forces having gained the upper hand on the battlefield with Russia's help, including recent victories against the Islamic State group and a fresh drive against rebels near Damascus, Putin is trying again.
Moscow, Ankara and Tehran are now cooperating with increasing intensity on ending the civil war, even though Turkey backs the rebels, at odds with Russia and Iran.
The Syrian president's fate remains a stumbling block, preventing global players from reaching a peace settlement.
In Sochi, Assad said he wanted to advance negotiations.
"We don't want to look back and we are ready for dialogue with all those who want to come up with a political settlement," Assad said in translated comments.
·    Riyadh summit -

Wednesday's summit comes ahead of parallel UN-led talks in Geneva set for November 28.
Meanwhile Syrian opposition figures gathered in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a bid to form an overhauled delegation to peace talks that analysts expect will be more willing to compromise on key demands.
Russia, Iran and Turkey's past negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana that brought together the representatives of the opposition and the regime led to four so-called "de-escalation zones" that produced a drop in violence.

More News For this Category

Tears as North and South Koreans meet after decades

Tears as North and South Koreans meet after decades

AFP, Sokcho : With tears and cries, dozens of elderly and frail South and North Korean family members met on Monday for the first time since the peninsula and their

Indians begin massive cleanup as rains diminish in Kerala

Indians begin massive cleanup as rains diminish in Kerala

Reuters, Kochi :Indian health authorities prepared defenses against the spread of disease in flood-hit Kerala state on Monday as water receded and a huge clean-up gathered pace after the

Pregnant New Zealand minister cycles to delivery ward

Pregnant New Zealand minister cycles to delivery ward

AFP, Wellington :New Zealand's Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has taken the cycle of life to a whole new level, biking her way to hospital for the birth

News In Brief

US rejects Turkey's offer to release pastorAP, WashingtonPresident Donald Trump's administration has rejected Turkey's offer to condition the release of an American pastor on clearing a top Turkish bank

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal

AFP, Ankara :Iran said on Monday that Europe should accelerate its efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned

Malaysia hopes China will sympathize with Malaysia's problems

Malaysia hopes China will sympathize with Malaysia's problems

Reuters, Beijing :Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday he believed China would sympathize with his country's "internal fiscal problems" as he seeks to renegotiate, or possibly cancel,

Russian President Putin steals the show at Austrian FM`s wedding

Russian President Putin steals the show at Austrian FM`s wedding

Reuters, Vienna :Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm-in-arm with Austria's foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding on Saturday, after receiving an invitation that opposition critics said undermined the

Europe must 'pay price' to save nuclear deal: Iran FM

Europe must 'pay price' to save nuclear deal: Iran FM

AFP, Tehran :Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that Europe had not yet shown it was willing to "pay the price" of defying Washington in order to

First satellite to measure global winds set for launch

First satellite to measure global winds set for launch

AFP, Paris :A satellite designed to measure Earth's global wind patterns is set to be hoisted into orbit Tuesday from the Arianespace launch site in French Guiana.The European Space

Britain's PM could face trouble over Brexit deal, Conservative lawmaker warns

Britain's PM could face trouble over Brexit deal, Conservative lawmaker warns

Reuters, London :Prime Minister Theresa May could face trouble getting her Brexit deal approved by the British parliament before exit day unless she changes her proposals, the head of