By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Russia on Thursday said there is a "significant progress" in the Syrian peace process.
Speaking at a news conference Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said she expects the visit of the UN special envoy for Syria to Damascus will boost the process of establishing the Syrian constitutional committee.
"On the political track, a significant progress towards the completion of the formation and launch of the constitutional committee has been made [...] We expect the visit of the UN special envoy to Damascus, scheduled for this week, will accelerate the convening of the committee,” Zakharova said.
The formation of the committee, the ministry spokesman said, will make it possible to launch a direct dialogue between Syrians to determine the parameters of the final settlement of the Syrian crisis and the future of the country.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.
Turning to the Venezuelan crisis, Zakharova welcomed contacts between the government and the opposition, saying: "Only Venezuelans can find a sustainable solution for their existing problems."
"In this context, we would like to appeal once again to foreign states and Venezuelan politicians to show the necessary restraint and sensitivity, not to impose their views and conditions on the participants of the talks," she said.
Venezuela has been rocked by protests since January, when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.
Tensions escalated when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president, a move supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries. Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, Bolivia and Mexico have thrown their weight behind Maduro.
Commenting on tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear program, Zakharova praised the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We highly appreciate the contribution of the IAEA […]we expect the agency to keep its professional, objective and unbiased approach in the implementation of mandated tasks in monitoring and verification in the light of UN resolution," she said.