Putin proposes Syrian peace congress to end 6-year civil war
Russian President Vladimir Putin has unveiled plans to hold a Syrian peace conference aimed at ending the six-year-long civil war. The announcement came after he held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia. The leaders have urged the Syrian government and opposition to "participate constructively." This comes days after Putin's meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
What the peace conference would focus on
In a statement alongside Rouhani and Erdogan, Putin said, the Congress, to be held in Sochi, "will look at the key questions on Syria's national agenda." He said it would first decide the Syria's future political structure, adopt a new constitution and then hold UN-supervised elections. Putin said the reform process would require "compromise and concessions from all parties, including obviously the Syrian government."
Syrian opposition groups are meeting to find a common position
No date for the proposed conference has been set. The news of the proposed congress come as Syrian opposition groups, part of the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), met in Riyadh to find a common position ahead of next week's UN-backed talks in Geneva. Meanwhile, Putin told Syrian President Assad during their recent meeting that he wanted to "move forward with the political process."
What to expect from the proposed peace conference
It goes to be seen which opposition groups would be invited to the Congress. Previous peace initiatives had been scuttled due to the list of participants. The subject of Assad's future as president is also a stumbling block. Opposition rebels and the US-backed Western coalition all want Assad to step down. However, the Russian-backed Assad has made military gains, making his position more entrenched.