Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due to meet Wednesday with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem will travel to Moscow on February 25, in the first such high-level meeting since opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib reached out to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s allies Russia and Iran by holding talks with foreign ministers of both countries in Munich this month.
Assad has been fighting an insurgency that has left almost 70,000 people dead, according to the United Nations. The mainly Sunni Syrian opposition, which had refused to negotiate with Assad’s Alawite-led government, is now considering dialogue with the rebels and indicated last week that it’s ready to meet with al-Khatib, who has called for talks to end the violence.
Russia has “cautious optimism” about the possibility of Syrian peace talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said yesterday.
“We hope the opposition and the government will find a way to sit down at the negotiating table,” Gatilov told reporters in Moscow. “A consolidated position of outside powers” is among the conditions needed for that to happen.
Al-Khatib, head of the main bloc of Syrian opposition groups, is due to hold talks in the Russian capital soon to discuss a solution to the Syrian crisis. A precise date for his visit hasn’t yet been fixed, Gatilov said.