Lavrov to meet 25 Syrian opposition members

The meeting comes after talks between Syrian regime and opposition in Astana.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with officials from Syria’s political opposition Friday, Moscow said, but it appeared representatives from armed rebel groups were not invited.

The meeting in Moscow comes after two days of Russian-brokered talks between the Syrian regime and armed rebel leaders in Kazakhstan ended Tuesday without a major breakthrough.

“We have invited on Friday all the opposition representatives from the political opposition that wish to come to Moscow and we will brief them about what happened in Astana,” Lavrov told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Jihad Makdissi, a Syrian Independent Politician, also confirmed the opposition’s invitation to meet with Lavrov in Moscow, adding that the meeting would be a consultation in order for opposition to state their views and discuss ways to guarantee the success if th next round of negotiations in Geneva.

Mahmoud Alffandi, secretary of the “Public Diplomacy” movement declared that him along with 25 Syrian opposition members were invited to the Russian capital.

A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry could not say which groups from Syria’s dizzying array of opposition — some of whom are dismissed by rebels fighting on the ground as not genuine — would be represented.

A rebel negotiator from the armed opposition delegation that attended the Astana talks said they had not been invited to attend the meeting with Lavrov, but did not rule out heading to Moscow if they were asked.

“We did not receive an invitation,” Fares Buyush told AFP from Istanbul after the rebels left Astana.

“The problem isn’t the invitation, it’s the topic of discussion. If it’s serious and we’ll be discussing a national issue, we’ll go to the end of the world,” Buyush said.

Key players Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed in Astana to establish a joint “mechanism” to shore up a shaky three-week truce in Syria, but offered few concrete details on how it would work.

The Kremlin on Wednesday hailed the peace talks as a success and said more might be held in future if there was a need.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters he thought the talks might help give impetus to troubled UN-brokered negotiations in Geneva.

Mohammad Alloush (C), the head of the Syrian opposition delegation, attends Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan January 23, 2017.


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