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    Journalists stand outside the United Nations office in Geneva during the Geneva IV conference on Syria, Switzerland, February 23, 2017

    Russia Regrets Astana, Hmeymim Opposition Groups Not Invited to Geneva Talks

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    Russia's envoy to the UN Office in Geneva said that Russia regrets that Astana and Hmeymim platforms of Syrian opposition were not invited to the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and believes it should be remedied in the future.

    GENEVA (Sputnik) Russia regrets that Astana and Hmeymim platforms of Syrian opposition were not invited to the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and believes it should be remedied in the future, Russia's envoy to the UN Office in Geneva Alexey Borodavkin said Thursday.

    "We have always supported the idea that the united opposition should include all political forces that actually represent the Syrian opposition. Unfortunately, this has not been done this time… We deeply regret that Astana and Hmeymim groups were not invited to these talks. This is, of course, an omission. We hope that in time it will be remedied," Borodavkin told reporters in Geneva.

    According to the envoy, the participation of a wide range of opposition groups is crucial for the success of the talks.

    The demands for resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad, yet again made by the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee, are absurd, Aleksey Borodavkin said.

    According to him, Damascus’ constructive position stands in sharp contrast with "absurd demands" on Assad’s resignation.

    The Damascus delegation arrived at the Geneva intra-Syria talks with an intention to reach progress on the basis of what has been done already, Russian envoy to the UN Office in Geneva said.

    "As always, our contact [with the head of the Syrian government delegation] was of a very open, well-wishing nature. It was a dialogue of like-minded [sides]. The delegation of the government arrived in Geneva with constructive instructions to reach progress at these talks," Borodavkin said.

    Positive results achieved at Astana talks on Syrian reconciliation had a good impact on the next round of talks in Geneva, Russia's envoy to the UN Office said.

    "The agreements reached in Astana created a necessary background to achieve progress in Geneva," Borodavkin told reporters.

    Negotiations on the Syrian crisis resolution in Kazakh capital preceded the new round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations, which kicked off earlier in the day.

    Russia is already helping Syria, but reconstructing the country would require huge resources, Russian envoy to the UN Office in Geneva said, commenting on media reports on the issue.

    Earlier in the day, the Financial Times newspaper reported, citing diplomats, that Russia wanted the EU countries to provide billions of dollars for reconstruction of Syria.

    "Russia is already providing great humanitarian and military technical help to Syria … But when we speak of restoring the country, something that needs to be discussed now, huge funds will be needed," he told reporters.

    Past Russia-US agreements on Syria can still be carried out if slightly modified, they can be a good basis for the fight against terrorists, Aleksey Borodavkin said.

    "The US administration has now declared the fight against terrorism its main priority. I think, now is the time when the documents [on Syria] elaborated last year could become the basis for [Russia-US] collaboration on the fight against terrorism again. It would be the right decision on part of the United States," Borodavkin told reporters in Geneva.

    According to the UNOG envoy, the documents are ready to be implemented and only need some minor corrections.

    "[These documents] could become a good basis for our bilateral cooperation, including military [collaboration] on the fight against Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group, banned in many countries, including Russia] in Syria," the envoy said.

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    Geneva talks, Alexey Borodavkin, Syria, Russia
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