Syrian opposition rejects Russia-sponsored congress

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Syrian opposition has rejected an initiative put forward by Russia during the latest negotiations in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to hold a congress, which would bring together Syria’s warring sides in Sochi later this month.

Members of Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee and the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC) told Reuters on Wednesday that they do not approve of the plan, saying they would issue a joint statement later to express their opposition to the plan.

SNC spokesman Ahmad Ramadan said the plan seeks to circumvent the UN efforts to mediate Syrian peace talks in Geneva, adding, “The Coalition will not participate in any negotiations with the regime outside Geneva or without UN sponsorship.”

The Astana peace process has been underway since January with the mediation of Iran and Russia, the Syrian government’s allies, and Turkey, which supports armed opposition groups.

The latest round of the talks came to an end on Tuesday, with the three guarantor states agreeing on the Russia-proposed congress.

A joint statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website at the end of the Astana talks listed 33 Syrian organizations invited to a “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue,” which is to be held in the Russian city of Sochi on November 18.

Russia says the key task of the event is to pave the way for constitutional reforms.



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