Russia: De Mistura, Lavrov discuss steps to make Geneva Syria talks a success

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura discussed steps to make the next round of Geneva talks on Syria a success. They were speaking at a press conference following a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Thursday. «The last Geneva meeting was not a good meeting, the atmosphere was not the right one and I’m counting on... Еще the assistance of everyone including the Russian Federation to make sure that the next meeting can be better,» de Mistura said, adding that the next talks, likely to be held towards the end of January will have «a special focus on the constitution and on elections» in Syria. «We want the complete and all-round fulfilment of Resolution 2254,» Lavrov said, adding that the two discussed the necessary steps to ensure the next round is «positive and facilitated direct dialogue between the [Syrian] government and opposition.» Lavrov and de Mistura also discussed the need to increase the UN’s involvement in humanitarian aid provision. «We talked today about the need to activate the capabilities of the UN to agree participation in humanitarian mine clearing. So far, the UN’s capabilities in this area are not being used and this is not right,» Lavrov said. The Russian foreign minister said that any humanitarian aid must be provided «without politicisation, without shifting the focus to benefit one side or another, without the artificial inflation of so-called ‘tragedies of the day’, without any preconditions, without any external coordination to promote the agenda of any external player.» Syrian talks in Astana started on Thursday and will last until Friday, when Steffan de Mistura will be joining. They will involve delegations from the Syrian government and some opposition groups and be led by Russia, Turkey and Iran. Last week, the eighth round of Syrian talks was held in Geneva. Contrary to expectations, the round did not bring any visible results — the direct negotiations between the delegations of the government and the united opposition did not get off the ground.

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