Firas Khalidi, a member of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee welcomed Thursday Russia’s call for holding direct negotiations between the delegations of the Syrian government and the country’s opposition in Geneva.
Earlier on Thursday, Lavrov said, following talks with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, that both Russia and the United States believed that the Syrian government and opposition should renounce preconditions and engage in direct negotiations.
“For the first time we feel that Russia exerts serious pressure on the delegation of the [Syrian] regime in order to bring it to the political process,” Khalidi told Sputnik.
Khalidi added that the Syrian opposition hoped that Russia would further support the negotiating process in Geneva to ensure the engagement of the Syrian government in the talks.
Meantime, Russia also plans to suggested a peace congress in Libya to end the six-year conflict similar to talks that will be held in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry and parliament’s lead negotiator on Libya Lev Dengov has told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper.
The concept of a Syrian national dialogue congress was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The congress will aim at adopting final documents on reconciliation and creating a committee that will draft a new constitution.
“Russia’s initiative was positively assessed in Italy several days ago. They called it an unparalleled format of dialogue. So why not apply it to Libya after we have established contacts with all parties to the conflict. We will use it,” Dengov said.
All Syrian ethnic groups and religious sects as well as opposition factions from Syria and abroad have been invited to participate. The United Nations, the ICRC health charity and the World Health Organization are expected to act as observers.