Ankara to represent Syrian opposition at Sochi summit
31 January, 2018, 06:13 | Author: Julio Duncan
Moscow - a backer of the Damascus regime - hosted the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, in hopes of paving the way to drafting a new constitution for Syria.
Syrian peace negotiations got under way in Russian Federation today without delegates from any of the major oppositiongroups, after Turkish-backed Syrian rebel representatives refused to leave the airport in Sochi.
Mohammed Adnan, a member of the Syrian opposition based in Turkey, told Reuters that about 70 people were in the group at the airport waiting to fly back to Ankara.
Russian Federation is hosting the Syrian congress of national dialogue in Sochi in the hope that it will lead to negotiations on drafting a new constitution for Syria after nearly seven years of war. Russian Federation has invited the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France and the United States - to the meeting which the Syrian opposition has said it will boycott.
A spokesman for the Syrian opposition said on Saturday it would not attend the Russian event, dismissing the gathering as an attempt by Moscow to sideline the UN-backed peace process.
The Kremlin's special envoy on the Syria peace process Lavrentiev confirmed to Russian news agencies that 1,500 out of 1,600 guests invited to the congress would attend the talks, including Kurds and Syrian opposition representatives.
"We understand there's no likelihood of an immediate breakthrough in the political resolution in Syria", Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on the eve of the Sochi meeting.
United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who has been leading the talks in Geneva, attended the Sochi conference.
More than three dozen other Syrian rebel groups, including influential Islamists, previously said they would not come to Sochi.
Russia, which has spearheaded several rounds of talks from the start of a year ago in Kazakhstan's Astana, initially hoped to convene the congress in Sochi last November but those efforts collapsed following a lack of agreement among co-sponsors.
The participants also agreed to set up a committee to rewrite the Syrian constitution at the conference, which much of the opposition said aimed to serve the interests of President Bashar al-Assad and his close ally, Moscow.
A participant holds a Syrian flag as he attends the Sochi session.
"This conference is tailor-made for Assad and his terrorist regime", said Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group that operates in northern Syria.
"Russia is grateful to the Swiss authorities and the Geneva airport administration for the assistance in organizing the departure, dealing with other logistics issues and ensuring security", Borodavkin noted.
Under the motto of "Peace to the People of Syria", the Sochi Congress is expected to take place, despite the absence of Syrian prominent opposition parties.
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