Russia pushes Syria deal

Moscow, November 3

Syrian government officials and members of the country’s splintered opposition could meet in Moscow next week as Russia pushes to broker a political solution to the crisis, a senior official said today.

“Next week, we will invite opposition representatives to a consultation in Moscow,” Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying. “The meeting ... will possibly be with the participation of government representatives,” Bogdanov said. He did not say which opposition members could attend. After initially dismissing Syrian opposition groups fighting its regional ally President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow has shown increasing flexibility as it steps up diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Moscow today to discuss attempts to start a dialogue between Damascus and the Syrian opposition, Moscow’s foreign ministry said.

At international peace talks in Vienna on Friday, where Russia was the leading player, Moscow said it wanted opposition groups to participate in future discussions on the Syria crisis.