April 18, 2018 / 9:59 AM / a month ago

Russia's Lavrov to hold talks with U.N. Syria envoy

MOSCOW/GENEVA (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with the United Nation’s Syria peace envoy, Staffan de Mistura, on Friday, the RIA news agency reported, citing the foreign ministry.

“I confirm that these talks are planned for Friday,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

De Mistura is conducting an intensive round of talks with world powers with a view to relaunching stalled peace talks between Damascus and the armed opposition, his office said in Geneva.

De Mistura, fresh from attending the League of Arab states summit in Riyadh was meeting senior Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday before heading to Moscow and Tehran for consultations with senior officials, the statement said.

Russia and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war now in its eighth year, a conflict that has claimed 500,000 lives.

The U.N. envoy also expects to meet European ministers and U.S. officials at a Brussels conference on Syria set for April 24-25 before briefing the U.N. Security Council, it added.

The last round of Geneva talks between the warring sides was held in December, followed by Vienna talks in late January.

As part of the political process, de Mistura is drawing up a list of possible members of a new Constitutional Committee to draft a new constitution.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova in Moscow and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Catherine Evans and Tom Miles

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