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Syrian leader Assad and Russia's Mikhail Bogdanov
Syrian leader Bashar Assad in talks with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail BogdanovImage: Reuters/Sana

Moscow pencils in Syria peace talks for October

September 28, 2015

Talks between the US, Russia, Iran and others on Syria could be held in October, said Russia's deputy foreign minister. The Kremlin has been pushing for a renewed diplomatic solution to the conflict.


Russia's RIA news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying that a meeting of regional representatives with an interest in a resolution to the Syrian conflict, along with Russia and the US, could be arranged as early as October.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt would also be part of the talks and others may be invited, said the report from the Moscow-based agency.

"Four Syrian working groups should be formed in Geneva and the meeting of the contact group of the most influential outside players, I think, will be pushed forward to October after the UN General Assembly," Bogdanov was quoted as saying.

Russia wants the talks to happen "as quickly as possible," he added.

The announcement came ahead of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, which was expected to be dominated by the war in Syira.

Syria stalemate

Speeches by US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, a long-time ally of the Syrian regime, are expected to discuss possible ways to resolve the conflict. Dozens of world leaders have gathered in New York for the session.

The Syria contact group met twice at the beginning of Syria's four-and-a-half-year civil war in an attempt ot broke a regional solution. But talks broke down as the conflict escalated.

Putin has been quick to seize on renewed diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, telling US TV's "60 minutes" program that a regional "coordinated framework" was needed to end the multi-front conflict between government forces, several Syrian rebel groups and 'Islamic State' (IS) fighters.

His call for diplomacy comes despite reports that Russia has deployed warplanes and an estimated 1,700 troops to Syria to help support President Bashar Assad's regime. The move has left Washington uneasy amid fears Moscow could "pour gasoline" on the conflict.

Russia and Iran are pushing for Assad's involvement in the fight back against "Islamic State" militants in Syria and Iraq, which Washington has ruled out.

Putin and Obama are also due to meet later on Monday to discuss Moscow's military engagement in Syria.

m/rg (AFP, Reuters)

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