Russia is proposing setting a concrete date for a new ceasefire between the government troops and opposition forces in Syria, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said.
The proposal is part of a statement, drafted by Russia, which is expected to be adopted by members of the international Action Group for Syria during a meeting in New York on Friday.
"The aim of this meeting is…to urge the opposing parties to end violence as well as to appoint their representatives for the start of talks by the time it happens," Churkin told reporters on Thursday.
The Action Group for Syria comprises the permanent UN Security Council members - Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain - and key regional players.
Russia initiated the meeting following the announcement by French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud on Thursday that the mandate of a UN observer mission in Syria, which expires on August 19, would not be extended.
Russia had repeatedly called for the monitors, who were deployed in Syria in May under Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, to remain in the violence-torn country in order to avoid possible “serious negative consequences” of their withdrawal.
The original mission of 300 military and civilian observers has been cut to 110 after the intensified violence in Syria forced the monitors to suspend patrols in mid-June.
The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 20,000 lives since March 2011, according to estimates by various opposition groups and the UN.
The UN refugee agency has registered almost 150,000 refugees in four countries bordering Syria.