Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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SYRIA: OPPOSITION LEADERS REBUFF RUSSIAN INVITATION TO HOLD TALKS

BEIRUT, The principal opposition leaders in Syria have rebuffed an invitation by Russia to hold talks in Moscow.

The Russian invitation was extended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

High Negotiations Committee spokesman Riyad Naasan said that HNC coordinator Riyad Hijab had "received a personal invitation" to attend Friday's talks "but declined". But "no invitation has yet been sent to the High Negotiations Committee", he added.

The HNC is the main Syrian opposition umbrella group and has taken part in peace talks brokered by Syria regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey in the Kazakh capital, Astana, this week.

The Turkey-based opposition National Coalition also declined to meet with Lavrov, said spokesman Ahmad Ramadan. He said invitations were sent to the current and past heads of the National Coalition and to the deputy of the sitting chief.

On Wednesday Lavrov told Russian lawmakers that he had invited "all the opposition representatives from the political opposition that wish to come to Moscow" for talks on Friday. He said "we will brief them about what happened in Astana".

The peace talks in the Kazakh capital ended on Tuesday without a major breakthrough. Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed in Astana to establish a joint "mechanism" to shore up a shaky three-week truce in Syria, but offered few concrete details on how it would work.

The UN humanitarian chief accused the Syrian government on Thursday of blocking aid to hundreds of thousands of the country's neediest people despite a nationwide cease-fire.

Undersecretary-General Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council that a two-step approval process that the government agreed to for humanitarian convoys to cross conflict lines to get to besieged and hard to reach areas "has become, in practice, a 10-step process.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK