Russia Says Syria Will Attend Next Geneva Talks

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The Syrian government will attend the next round of peace talks with the opposition, set to begin on February 10 in Geneva, according to Russia's top foreign official.

Russia Says Syria Will Attend Next Geneva Talks

Syria's opposition leader met Russia's top diplomat on Tuesday in a bid to persuade Moscow to pressure Damascus to agree to a transitional government for the war-scarred nation.

"We have no doubt that the government delegation will take part in the second round of international talks in Geneva," Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters before talks in Moscow between Russian officials and Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba.

The talks between Jarba and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came after an inconclusive 10-day peace conference in Geneva broke up on Friday without a firm commitment from Damascus to attend a new round set for February 10.

The so-called Geneva II talks were promoted jointly by Washington - a firm backer of the Syrian opposition - and Moscow  - an ally of the Damascus government - in a bid to convince the warring sides to sit down for direct negotiations for the first time.

But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's team and the opposition made no progress on local ceasefires or permission for humanitarian corridors to some of the country's more devastated cities such as Homs, Reuters reported.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the state-run RIA Novosti news on Tuesday that "we expected the government delegation, as it had previously assured us, to take part in future negotiations with the opposition."

Yet Gatilov also conceded that "for now, it is premature to talk about any decisions (about a new round of talks) because these have not yet been made."

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