Syrian Opposition to Decide on Attending Sochi Congress after Vienna Talks

United Nations-sponsored peace talks on Syria are set to resume in Vienna on Thursday where the Syrian High Negotiations Committee is expected to announce its final decision on whether to attend next week’s Sochi peace congress.

Syrian opposition and regime representatives are set to meet in the Austrian capital after failing last month to achieve a breakthrough in the eighth round of the Geneva talks.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday there was no sign of a political solution for Syria other than the Vienna talks and they were the “last hope”.

UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that the talks are being held at a “very, very critical” time.

The Syrian High Negotiations Committee is expected to declare from Vienna is final decision on attending the Sochi congress, announced Commission spokesman Yehya al-Aridi to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The official made his remarks in wake of talks he held in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We came to Russia with an agenda on our vision of the political solution,” added Aridi after the four-hour talks in the Russian capital.

“The Russian side listened with interest to the opposition ideas, but it did not make any response to them,” he continued.

The talks at the Russian Foreign Ministry did not reach “conclusive” results, but they “take on a special importance,” remarked the Syrian official.

The two sides instead agreed to continue coordination. Russia will dispatch its deputy foreign minister to Vienna.

“He will listen to our ideas during the negotiations and we will then make our final decision on attending Sochi,” Aridi explained.

Sources from the Commission said that the two-day Vienna meeting will serve as a real test for the regime and Russians in determining whether they are serious in reaching a solution to the Syrian conflict.

Prior to traveling to Vienna, head of the Commission Nasr al-Hariri had held talks on Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Sochi congress will be held on January 29 and 30.

Image: Reuters

Article: Asharq Al-Awsat