Syria talks should be more ‘representative,’ include Iran, Egypt – Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that a dozen actors ranging from international organizations to regional countries ‒ particularly Iran and Egypt ‒ should join the talks on finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

On Friday the foreign ministers of Russia, United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia held talks on the Syrian conflict in Vienna, Austria.

“Many external actors and not only those four that gathered in Vienna are obviously involved in the Syrian crisis. For this reason, we called for our future meetings to be held in a more representative format that would include a range of regional powers,” Lavrov said after the meeting.

“We specially stressed that it should include Iran and Egypt,” he stressed.

According to Lavrov, the format of talks on Syria should not be “endlessly extended,” although it could “reasonably” involve about a dozen states and organizations, including the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The Russian foreign minister also stressed that the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and North Africa concerns not only Arab countries, Turkey and Iran, but “the whole Islamic world.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the meeting “constructive and productive,” adding that the ideas proposed at this meeting might positively influence the pace of changes in Syria.

Kerry did not rule out a possibility of inviting Iran to take part in the negotiations on Syria, conceding that Tehran could “eventually” be asked to join the talks, according to Bloomberg. He also said that the next talks on Syria could take place next Friday.

Sergey Lavrov’s words were then echoed by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who said later on Friday that the EU position is that “all relevant actors regionally and internationally should be involved.”

She also advocated Lavrov’s idea of inviting Iran to take part in the talks. “Our open channel with Iran is something we are using very actively, and I hope Iran can be part of this process,” Mogherini said.

During the meeting in Vienna, Lavrov also proposed the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to join the Russian-Jordanian information-sharing mechanism in order to coordinate the military operations in the Syrian sky.

“I suggested… that our US, Saudi and Turkish partners also used this opportunity, this mechanism that would allow to resolve all the issues, which still prevent [us] from effectively neutralizing ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups,” Lavrov told journalists.

He added that the four countries could also cooperate within the initiative proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that would envisage “mutual coordination of targets,” as well as the lists of terrorist groups.

However the Russian foreign minister said that “our partners are still avoiding it,”  adding that “there are criteria [for defining terrorist organizations], there are the Security Council lists as well as national lists in the European countries, in the US and in Russian Federation.”