January 30, 2018 / 6:17 PM / a year ago

Sochi conference backs Syria's territorial unity, 'democratic' path

A participant holds a Syrian flag as he attends a session of the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

AMMAN (Reuters) - Participants at a Syrian peace conference in Russia called for respect for the country’s territorial integrity and said the Syrian people alone should decide the shape of their government, according to a final statement obtained by Reuters.

Russia, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, was hosting what it called a Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that it hopes will launch talks on drafting a new constitution for Syria.

The statement said the participants had agreed on “basic principles” deemed essential for saving Syria after nearly seven years of civil war and endorsed a “democratic” path for the country through elections.

The statement made no mention of Assad.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Gareth Jones

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