Kurds invited to join peace congress in Sochi: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuses Washington of stoking separatist sentiment among Syria's Kurds as Turkey pressed an offensive against US-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Kurds invited to join peace congress in Sochi: Lavrov

MOSCOW: Russia said on Monday it has invited Kurds to take part in an upcoming Syrian peace congress in Sochi on Jan. 29-30 despite a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia in northern Syria.
“Kurdish representatives have been included on the list of Syrians invited to participate in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Together with regime backer Iran and rebel supporter Turkey, Russia — a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad — wants to convene a peace conference with the aim of agreeing on a new constitution for post-war Syria.
The peace talks have been planned for January 29 and 30.
Lavrov also said that Syrian Kurds should play a role in the “future political process.”

Territorial integrity
“This role should certainly be ensured,” he said but added that all of Syria’s ethnic groups should respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Lavrov accused Washington of stoking separatist sentiment among Syria’s Kurds. “Washington continues to encourage separatist sentiments among Kurds” while ignoring the “delicate” nature of the issue, Lavrov said.
“This is either a lack of understanding of the situation or an absolutely conscious provocation.”
Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov — asked whether the Turkish offensive would complicate the Sochi congress — declined to comment, but said that the preparations for the conference were under way.


Tunisian police and protesters clash after death at police station

Policemen stand guard in Tunis. (AFP)
Updated 51 min 13 sec ago
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Tunisian police and protesters clash after death at police station

  • Tunisian activists say abuses by security forces have continued, albeit at a lower rate, since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the regime of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali

TUNIS: Police in Tunisia fired tear gas on Saturday to disperse demonstrators who protested after a young man died inside a police station near the coastal resort of Hammamet, witnesses said.
The young man was arrested on Friday after a fight between groups of youths in the town of Barraket Essahel, 60 km (37 miles) southeast of the capital Tunis, according to locals. While it was not immediately clear how he died, demonstrators blamed the security forces.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry said the young man had fainted after reaching the police station and died despite officers’ efforts to revive him. It said a judge had ordered an investigation.
Police in Barraket Essahel were not immediately available to comment.
Tunisian activists say abuses by security forces have continued, albeit at a lower rate, since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the regime of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.