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Russia, Iran and Turkey announce new Syria peace talks 

The Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey announced yesterday their intention to convene a Syrian National Congress to include Syrian government and opposition representatives.

Speaking at a press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian Presdident Vladimir Putin said: “The Congress will look at the key questions on Syria’s national agenda… drawing up a framework for the future structure of the state, the adoption of a new constitution, and, on the basis of that, the holding of elections under United Nations supervision.”

The Iranian President said he hoped the Syrian National Congress will be held in Sochi in the very near future. “This conference will mark an important step along the way [to Syrian peace settlement],” he said, adding that the relationship between Russia and Iran is “very cordial and positive”.

In a joint statement, Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan “expressed support to the intra-Syrian dialogue with the participation of representatives from all segments of the country’s society”. They “urged representatives of the Syrian government and opposition speaking in favour of sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian state to take a constructive part.”

Syrian opposition groups met in Riyadh to try and agree on a joint position ahead of the latest round of UN-backed talks in Geneva next week. The head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a Saudi-backed organisation that represents opposition groups, resigned on on Monday.

On Tuesday evening Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Putin and expressed Israel’s opposition to Iranian military entrenchment in Syria. Putin also spoke with US President Donald Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.