January 27, 2018 / 2:46 PM / in a year

Russia's Syria congress to call for vote on country's future: RIA

FILE PHOTO - UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and Syrian chief negotiator and Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari and delegate members are pictured ahead the start of talks on Syria in Vienna on January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Halada/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The conference on Syria in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi will call for the Syrian people to decide their future by popular vote without external pressure, RIA news agency reported on Saturday.

The Moscow-brokered meeting aimed at ending Syria’s war is due to take place next week. It was postponed last November due to differences between the would-be attendees, including over participation of the Kurds, a sticking point for Turkey.

RIA news agency cited a draft communique of the congress, saying it would call for Syria to remain a united country and for a vote on the future of the country.

“The Syrian people independently determine the future of its country democratically by way of the vote,” the agency quoted the document as saying.

Nine rounds of U.N. peace talks between the warring sides have made little progress toward ending the civil war in which hundreds of thousands have been killed and 11 million - a majority of the Syrian population - driven from their homes.

Plans for the congress in Sochi suffered a setback on Friday when the Syrian opposition declared it would not attend the meeting.

United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura will attend, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Stephen Powell

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