Russia confident about upcoming intra-Syrian talks

Moscow, March 12 (IANS) Russia is confident about the upcoming reconciliation talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in the Swiss city of Geneva from March 14-24, the Russian deputy foreign minister said on Saturday.

The Geneva peace talks, also known as Geneva III, are intended peace negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition under the protection of the UN with the aim of ending the Syrian civil war.

“We have reasons for optimism as there is a common understanding within the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG),” said Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The ISSG is co-chaired by the US and Russia. The group is composed of the Arab League, the European Union, the UN and 17 countries.

Bogdanov called for forming a united group of the Syrian opposition, only with which “direct contact between the Syrian government and the opposition could be possible”.

The US and Russia agreed on a plan for a ceasefire in Syria that began on February 27. The tentative truce deal has been largely observed, though violations were reported.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Saudi Arabia for a visit, affirmed on Saturday that the new round of intra-Syrian talks should go ahead as planned.

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