Turkish, Russian top diplomats discuss preparations for Syria peace congress in Sochi
00:35, Jan 28, 2018
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Throughout nine rounds of negotiations in Switzerland, the SNC and Syrian government representatives have held separate talks with United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, but the two delegations have not met face to face.
In the SNC's initial announcement of a boycott, the group said on its Twitter account Friday night that "Russia has not succeeded in promoting its conference".
The event will be held in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29-30, with invitations to participate sent to UN representatives and observers from Great Britain, China, the United States and France - as permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as to Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
De Mistura has presided over a sporadic series of talks in Geneva, with a mandate to discuss new elections, reformed governance, a new constitution and the fight against terrorism.
De Mistura, speaking to reporters early Saturday, admitted there had been a disheartening lack of progress up until now.
Moscow says the goal of the Sochi talks is to "efficiently" sustain the UN-sponsored talks with concrete "results".
The Syrian opposition will not attend a peace conference Russian Federation is hosting in Sochi next week, a spokesman said on Saturday, dismissing the meeting as an attempt by the Syrian government's close ally to "sideline" the current United Nations peace process.
Sources pointed out that the Syrian regime reduced its representation at Sochi talks, in a move that may be interpreted as "overthrowing" the conference from the ground up.
Haid Haid, a consulting research fellow at Chatham House think-tank, said Russia's long-term strategic interests were at play in Sochi.
He noted that if the Russians want to bring peace to Syria they should put their efforts on Geneva talks.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said meanwhile in Paris that the talks are the "last hope" for reaching a political solution.
The US and its allies are responsible for bloodshed in Syria "and they have no right to determine the future of the situation in Syria", he said.
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