Syria peace talks to begin in Russia despite opposition boycott
Sochi, Russia - Delegates on Monday arrived for the first Syria peace congress in Russia, but expectations for the dialogue were tempered after the wartorn country’s main opposition group said it would boycott the event.
Regime-backer Moscow has invited 1,600 people to the talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as part of a broader push to consolidate its influence in the region and start hammering out a path to a political solution to end the bloody conflict.
Only a fraction of the invitees, about 350 people, are set to participate at the Sochi event.
The aim of the Tuesday congress is to bring Syria closer to creating a post-war constitution, after two days of separate UN-backed talks in Vienna last week closed without any sign the warring sides had met face-to-face to discuss the groundwork for the document.
The Kremlin has downplayed expectations of the event, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists Monday that “breakthroughs in the task of political regulation in Syria are hardly possible.”
The Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), the country’s main opposition group, said following the talks in Vienna, it would not attend the Sochi congress.
Bashar al Jaafari, Syrian chief negotiator speaks to journalists after the talks on Syria in Vienna on Friday