Opposition absence will not hinder peace talks: Moscow

Opposition absence will not hinder peace talks: Moscow

Russian Federation has invited the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France and the United States - to the meeting which the Syrian opposition has said it will boycott.

The Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) boycotted the congress following UN-brokered talks in Vienna last Thursday.

The Congress is sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, the leaders of the three countries having agreed to the all-Syrian Congress in November.

"Despite the huge psychological pressure which was exerted on the Syrians by those who seek the continuation of the fratricidal conflict in Syria, to prevent the participation of the opposition figures in the Sochi congress, they found the bravery to arrive in Sochi and take part in determining the future of their country".

After another round of failed peace talks in Vienna last week, the SNC said it would not attend the Sochi congress. The first group of the congress participants arrived in Sochi yesterday.

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Separately, Putin's Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev told the TASS news agency that Moscow regretted the opposition leadership's decision to stay away, but said he hoped "common sense" would prevail and they would change their minds.

Reuters reported that an opposition spokesman says the group, which seeks the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, won't attend the conference in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Tuesday because it's an attempt by Moscow to sideline a separate United Nations peace process supported by Washington, the European Union and various Arab powers. "France will not participate in the work being carried out there", the spokesman said.

The Kremlin has downplayed expectations of the event, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists Monday that "breakthroughs in the task of political regulation in Syria are hardly possible". Ankara, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria a "terrorist" group, has vowed to continue and possibly expand the operation despite worldwide concern and strained relations with Washington.

The resolution, obtained by media on Sunday, calls for efforts to start the reconstruction of Syria and allow the refugees to return home, without linking those initiatives to any political issues.

Russian diplomats will host what Moscow is touting as a major peace conference on Syria this week, but there's a catch: The Syrian opposition won't be there.

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