Sochi Focuses on Aid, Return of Syrian Refugees

Sochi Focuses on Aid, Return of Syrian Refugees

Wednesday, 1 August, 2018 - 07:15
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura (C) looks on before the start of talks on Syria in Vienna on January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Halada/Pool
Moscow - Raed Jabr
The guarantors of the Astana process have failed to converge their views on the main issues raised in Sochi talks, while wide opposing views over the situation in Idlib hampered an agreement over joint steps of action.

On the other hand, Moscow succeeded in maintaining the file of the refugees on the agenda of subsequent discussions, based on its call to lift international sanctions and help the Syrian regime receive the displaced.

Russian Presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentyev read a short report at the end of the second day of talks in Russia, emphasizing the key elements contained in the final statement signed by the guarantor countries.

The statement did not mention the situation in Idlib, but focused on the agreement of the guarantor countries to call on the international community to help Syrians restore their normal lives and launch a negotiation over the return of the refugees.

The statement also pointed to an agreement by the guarantors to “complete the confidence-building efforts between the parties to the Syrian conflict, also with regards to the issue of detainees.”

It renewed the commitment of the three parties to preserve the unity and sovereignty of the Syrian territories and reject division plans aimed at “undermining the unity of Syria and neighboring countries.”

The next round of talks would be held in November, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that extensive discussions on the situation in Idlib have ended without any sensible agreement, while Russia confirmed during the talks that it would no longer tolerate the continued attacks from Idlib towards the base of Hmeimem and other areas, and that it would respond to future attacks.

On the other hand, briefs delivered by Lavrentyev and the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, have emphasized some progress in the file of constitutional reform, in an attempt to cover up the failure of the round of talks.

In this regard, source told Asharq Al-Awsat that De Mistura did not participate in discussions on the various files, adding that his role was limited to discussing the constitutional committee. Lavrentyev, for his part, said he was satisfied with the progress achieved in this file.

On the issue of refugees, the Russian presidential envoy underlined the need for fast international support, by working to lift sanctions on Syria and contribute to reconstruction efforts in order to facilitate the return of refugees.

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