Syrian team, Putin to discuss relaunching peace talks: source
A high-level Syrian delegation will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday to discuss possibly relaunching peace talks to end the country's civil war, a senior Syrian official said Thursday.
"President Putin will receive the delegation headed by Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Muallem, and the meeting will centre on the relaunch of negotiations," the official said of the meeting with the key Damascus ally.
"The fact that Putin is receiving the delegation immediately shows the importance he's putting on this visit, because meetings in Moscow are usually held with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov," the source said.
"Even during the chemical weapons crisis, the discussions were held with Lavrov," he added, referring to talks after a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus in August 2013.
Washington blamed the attack on the Syrian government and threatened military action until a deal was thrashed out with Moscow under which Damascus agree to give up its chemical weapons.
Waddah Abed Rabbo, editor-in-chief of the Al-Watan daily, which is close to the regime, said the meeting "will revolve around ideas proposed by Moscow to bring together the state and 'an opposition' and initiate a first dialogue."
He did not elaborate on who that opposition might be.
Abed Rabbo said the idea would be to revive the so-called Geneva process that started with talks in the city in summer 2012.
A second round of talks in Switzerland was held in early 2013, but ended with no agreement.
"It is not a Russian plan for the moment; it's just ideas to relaunch the process," Abed Rabbo said.
"They must be discussed with the Syrians before the establishment of a plan to be endorsed by the United Nations," he said.
The Syrian delegation to Moscow will also include presidential advisor Buthaina Shaaban and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad.
© 2014 AFP