Syrian peace talks begin in Sochi

Syrian peace talks begin in Sochi

UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives in southern Russian city of Sochi

By Elena Teslova

SOCHI, Russia (AA) - Syrian peace talks began Monday in the southern Russian city of Sochi as part of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, organized by Ankara, Tehran and Moscow.

The congress is to be attended by all sectors of Syrian society except for terror groups.

The UN announced this past weekend the participation of its special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who arrived Monday in Sochi.

Representatives of Iran, Russia, Turkey and de Mistura are to hold consultations on Monday, according to Russian envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev in interview to TASS.

The Syrian opposition's Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), however, announced Saturday that it would not take part in the meeting.

"We regret very much that the leadership of the Syrian opposition’s Higher Negotiation Committee that took part in inter-Syrian negotiations in Vienna under the chairmanship of Staffan de Mistura made such a statement about its unwillingness to take part in the congress. We hope that common sense will prevail, [...] the invitation remains on the table," said Larentyev.

The main purpose of the talks is to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Kazakhstan are among the countries that were invited as observers.

Earlier, Moscow had said that 1,600 invitations had been sent. The Syrian government confirmed the participation of delegation of 680 people while Syrian opposition is to be represented by 400 participants.

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