20:21 GMT17 January 2021
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    There are no plans at this point to increase the number of de-escalation zones in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after a meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Moscow.

    "The zones of de-escalation are preserved as a result of an agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran. The southern zone was formed with the participation of Russia, the United States and Jordan," Lavrov said. "There are no plans, at least at this stage, to expand the number of these zones," Lavrov added.

    Meanwhile, an agreement on sending the UN assessment mission to the Syrian city of Raqqa has been reached, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday.

    "Only now, after imperative demands it has become possible to reach accords with the participation of the Syrian government on sending an UN assessment mission to Raqqa," Lavrov said at a press conference after the talks with UN Special Envoy for Syria in Moscow.

    In turn, Staffan de Mistura said that he had discussed with Sergey Lavrov the creation of the Syrian constitutional commission stressing the need to accelerate the process. The UN official added that during the talks the two sides had agreed on the importance to accelerate the processes related to the commission.

    "We both agree we shouldn't lose too much time. It's time for coming up with proper names and qualifications of those who will be included, and it should be accelerated," de Mistura said, adding that it would allow Geneva talks to start work in full force.

    In addition, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that he found common ideas with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on how to increase access for the UN humanitarian aid for Syria.

    "The priority for us was to discuss how to increase access to humanitarian aid. We are ready to provide it, we need access. We discussed it with both with Minister Lavrov and Minister Shoigu. We have some common ideas on how to increase access for humanitarian aid," Mistura said after the talks with Lavrov in Moscow.

    The Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in Russia's Sochi in January, was one of the most recent attempts to peacefully settle the Syrian conflict. The event resulted in an agreement to establish the Constitutional Commission.


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