Russian FM announces postponement of Syria negotiations in Geneva

Moscow, Jan 27 (IANS) The latest round of conflict resolution talks between the Syrian government and the armed opposition has been postponed until the end of February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced on Friday.

The UN-backed discussions in Geneva were scheduled for February 8, Efe news reported.

Speaking at the onset of a meeting with a delegation of Syrian opposition, Lavrov said: “The passivity of our UN colleagues, who since last year have not held any rounds of negotiations, is unacceptable.”

Friday’s meeting with the various political arms of certain Syrian rebel groups, which was broadcast on Russian TV, came just three days after the closed-door discussions between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

That icy gathering bore little fruit in the way of resolving the Syrian conflict, aside from an agreement to further impose the almost universal ceasefire across the nation — the extremist Islamic State (IS) terror group and the Islamist Front for the Conquest of the Levant were excluded from that deal.

Lavrov said that the Astana meeting had been an important step towards a solution in Syria, considering that rebel groups that formerly had no contact with the government were now locked in negotiations with President Bashar Al Assad.

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces — a coalition of rebel groups — did not attend the meeting in Moscow.

According to Lavrov, that group declined the invitation to attend, citing ceasefire violations in Syria by the government.

The Russian minister said there were no ceasefire violations.

Around 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict according to UN estimates, and millions more have fled their homes.