Wednesday, February 21, 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

Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys

Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys

US President Donald Trump signaled support Monday for improving background gun checks amid mounting pressure for reform in the wake of the Florida school shooting, as the accused gunman appeared

Nepal wants to deepen ties with China: K P Oli

Nepal wants to deepen ties with China: K P Oli

PTI, Kathmandu : Nepal's new Prime Minister K P Oli has said he wants to deepen ties with China to explore more options and get more leverage in his dealings with

Maldives President seeks approval to extend state of emergency

Maldives President seeks approval to extend state of emergency

Reuters, Male :Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Monday sought parliamentary approval to extend a state of emergency by 30 days, saying a threat to national security had not diminished and

Iran teams find wreckage of plane in Zagros mountains

Iran teams find wreckage of plane in Zagros mountains

AFP, Tehran, Iran :Iranian search teams found the wreckage on Tuesday of a plane that went missing in the Zagros mountains two days earlier with 66 people on board, a

News In Brief

Trump endorses Romney in run for Utah Senate seatReuters, Washington President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah

US, S Korea to go ahead with Olympic-delayed drills

AFP, Seoul :The US and South Korea will go ahead with joint military drills after the Paralympics, both of them confirmed Tuesday, despite the exercises always infuriating Pyongyang and the

Palestinians stuck in `bad conditions` at Cairo airport

Palestinians stuck in `bad conditions` at Cairo airport

Al Jazeera News  :Some 160 Palestinians, who are heading back to the Gaza Strip, have been stuck in Cairo's airport for the last 13 days as Egyptian authorities deny

Pakistan's Imran Khan ties knot to 'Spiritual Adviser' in 3rd marriage

Pakistan's Imran Khan ties knot to 'Spiritual Adviser' in 3rd marriage

Reuters, Islamabad :Pakistani cricketer-turned-politican Imran Khan has tied the knot for the third time, his party said on Sunday, confirming his marriage to a woman local media call a

Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election

Reuters, Bangkok :Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching

Iran resumes hunt for missing plane with 66 on board

AFP  :Iranian rescue teams battled severe weather Monday as they searched for a passenger plane that disappeared high in the Zagros mountains the previous day with 66 people on