Vienna to Host International Syria Reconciliation Talks on Thursday

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The top diplomats of the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey will convene in Vienna on Thursday to discuss how to end the four-year Syrian civil war.

A broader meeting of global and regional powers, including Iran, will take place in the Austrian capital on Friday. Egypt and Lebanon have also confirmed their attendance.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that Washington had extended an invitation to Iran, a country considered to be a key backer of the Syrian government.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the Iranian foreign policy chief had discussed his participation with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov over the phone.

This will be the first time that Iran will sit down at the negotiating table with the United States to work out a peaceful solution to the ongoing Syrian civil war, which has killed some 250,000 and displaced over 13 million, according to UN data.

Russia welcomed Iran’s decision to come to the Vienna talks, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying they “support the expansion of this dialogue.”

The two-day ministerial talks come a week after a smaller round of negotiations involving Russian, US, Saudi and Turkish representatives.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with troops loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting on multiple fronts against opposition factions and extremist groups. A US-led coalition has been bombing Islamist targets in Syria for more than a year. On September 30, Russia began a separate air campaign in Syria at Assad’s request.

 

 

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