Russia accuses others of ‘evading’ work on Syria

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said about talks with encompass 20 countries including the Arab League

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said countries will hold “enlarged” talks on the Syrian conflict soon, accusing some of trying to evade negotiations.

Speaking in the capital of Armenia at a press-conference, Lavrov said the list of players attempting to find common ground over the conflict that killed 250,000 people has grown since last month’s unprecedented talks in Vienna.

“There will be another meeting in the nearest future in an enlarged format... that is about 20 countries and organizations,” he said.

The Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will join the table, which includes the United States, France and Iran, to continue discussing the possibilities of a political settlement for Syria after four years of fighting.

Lavrov added that making progress ahead of the next meeting on the Syrian conflict is difficult due to some countries’ attempts to “evade” doing the work required and the talks themselves.

“A whole range of our partners are still trying to evade concrete work, the talks, and to limit the issue to abstract calls on the necessity of President Assad’s departure,” Lavrov said, calling it an approach that distracts from work that brings results.

Moscow has been carrying out a bombing campaign in Syria since September 30, when it said it would strike terrorist targets to support the offensive of Bashar al-Assad’s army.

The United States and some other countries involved in the conflict however say Moscow is making the situation worse by targeting groups that oppose Assad rather than focusing on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and other militants.

Washington last week cautioned Moscow against using its air force “to stiffen the Assad regime’s resistance to a political transition.”

Lavrov said that Moscow has already shared with its partners on Syria “our list of terrorist organizations” and expects that a new round of talks will come up with a “unified list, so that there are no issues about who is striking whom and who is supporting whom.”

In Moscow, deputy minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with a delegation of Syria’s tolerated opposition National Coordination Committee, led by Abdelaziz al-Khayer, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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