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    Lavrov, Syrian Opposition Discuss Draft Constitution, UN's Passivity in Moscow

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday held a meeting with the representatives of Syrian opposition groups in the Russian capital and discussed a number of issues related to the settlement of the conflict in the Middle Eastern state, including the lack of the United Nations' efforts and the project of the constitution prepared by Moscow.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The efforts of the Russian Foreign Ministry brought together 11 representatives of different Syrian opposition groups, including the Moscow, Cairo, Hmeymim groups, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Movement of the Pluralistic Society. At the same time, representatives of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and the Riyadh-formed High Negotiation Committee (HNC) refused to attend the event.

    At the meeting, the minister and the Syrian opposition figures discussed the outcome of the recent settlement talks in Astana that took place on January 23-24. At the recent negotiations, Damascus and the representatives of the Syrian armed opposition succeeded to exchange views on a number of issues, while international mediators, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to establish a trilateral mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and the Russian side has proposed a draft Syrian constitution to the parties to the conflict.

    Passivity of United Nations

    Opening the negotiations, the Russian foreign minister said that Moscow viewed the Astana talks as an important stage of settlement in the Middle Eastern country. According to the minister, the parties to the conflict agreed in the Kazakh capital that the crisis could not be settled through the use of force and that the steps taken in Astana would be a contribution to the UN-mediated Geneva talks.

    "It is delightful that the announcement of the meeting in Astana served as an impulse for our colleagues in the United Nations to intensify their actions a little bit and announce the resumption of the intra-Syria talks in Geneva, even though this date has been moved again from February 8 to the end of next month," Lavrov said.

    At the same time, the foreign minister voiced concern over the passivity of the international organization.

    "We are convinced that the passivity of our colleagues from the United Nations, which have not held any rounds of talks since last April is unacceptable," the diplomat added.

    The Russian top diplomat added that the representatives of the HNC had been invited to visit the meting in Moscow, but began putting forward preconditions despite initial will.

    "They have said in particular that they cannot sit at the negotiating table while there are military operations. The fighting has now ceased, there is a truce in place, so they should have no more excuses," Lavrov said.

    Syrian Constitution

    Speaking about the draft of the Syrian constitution prepared by Russian specialists ahead of the Astana talks, the minister mentioned numerous rumors "swirling" around the project of the legislation and added that the draft law seeks to bring approaches of both Damascus and the opposition groups together.

    "The draft constitution attempts to pull together and find common points in those approaches there were expounded to us by both the government and opposition over the past few years," Lavrov said.

    According to the minister, Russia's proposals are not an attempt to impose anything on anyone.

    "Take into consideration the experience of the last five years, we are convinced that if we do not make a specific proposals, we can never start a specific work. So we hope that all the Syrians will become aware of the project within the framework of the preparations to the Geneva meeting and it will encourage practical discussions focused on the search for general consensus," the Russian minister added.

    According to Lavrov, Russia believes that the forthcoming intra-Syria talks in Geneva should focus on specific issues, including drafting the Syrian constitution.

    Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including al-Nusra Front and Daesh, which is banned in a range of countries, including Russia.

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    The Syrian war, Sergei Lavrov, Syria, Russia
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