Russia's Lavrov backs renewal of U.N.-led Syria talks

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Russia supports the continuation of talks on the Syrian crisis under United Nations auspices, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
In an interview published on the ministry’s web site on Sunday, Lavrov said international talks on Syria that took place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in January were a “breakthrough step” in efforts to resolve the crisis.
The format of Astana talks between representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, however, should not replace the Geneva talks led by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, Lavrov said.
The next round of Geneva talks have been scheduled for Feb. 20, diplomats told reporters last Tuesday. They had been planned to begin on Feb. 8 but Lavrov said last week that they had been postponed.
The minister also reiterated Moscow’s stance on relations with new U.S. President Donald Trump. Lavrov said the two countries were in a position to solve bilateral issues, improve ties and coordinate efforts to fight “international terrorism”, but only on the basis of mutual respect.

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