Russia hopes to host Syria talks in January

Russia plans to host delegations from the Syrian opposition in late January, possibly followed by a visit by regime representatives that could bring the two sides together for talks, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Members of the Syrian opposition are expected in Moscow “after January 20th,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.

“We expect this group to include representatives of both the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ opposition,” said Lukashevich, meaning delegates based inside and outside the country. “It will be a compact group” that will meet to work out a position.

“After that we plan to invite representatives of the government, and the sides will try to express, in an informal atmosphere, their vision and ways of regulating (the conflict),” he added.

Moscow has been trying to relaunch peace talks for Syria that would include meetings between delegates of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the fractured opposition.

Assad this month met with Russian delegates and gave his support to the plan.

The Syrian government’s participation in the Moscow talks would depend on how the opposition’s talks go, Lukashevich said, adding that the participation of special UN envoy Staffan de Mistura was “not ruled out.”