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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)
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.

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