US envoy to Syria visits Moscow amid fresh diplomatic push

28th August 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Friday hosted the newly appointed US special envoy for Syria as world powers intensify efforts to end the four-year civil war raging in the country.

The new envoy, Michael Ratney, who was appointed to his position last month, had previously worked for the State Department in the Middle East.

In Moscow, Ratney met with Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and other senior officials, but no details about their meeting were immediately released.

The spokesperson for the US embassy in Moscow, Will Stevens, told AFP ahead of Ratney's meetings that his visit "reaffirms the United States' strong commitment to working with the international community to help Syrians lay the foundation for a free, democratic, and pluralistic future."

Numerous initiatives have tried at the international level to seek an end to a crisis that has claimed more than 240,000 lives but all of them have failed.

In recent weeks Middle Eastern leaders have flocked to Moscow, one of the few remaining allies of Syrian President Bashad al-Assad.

This week Russian strongman Vladimir Putin discussed Syria with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this month hosted his Saudi and Iranian counterparts as well as members of the Syrian opposition tolerated by the Assad regime.

Moscow is pushing a plan for a broader grouping than the current US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) group, which would include Syria's government and its allies.

Assad's opponents have rejected the idea.

Ratney is then expected to travel to Geneva and Riyadh for further meetings on the crisis.

© 2015 AFP

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