x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Russian foreign minister to hold Syria talks with GCC in Kuwait

Russia and Gulf Cooperation Council are at loggerheads over the bloody conflict in Syria that is estimated to have claimed more than 136,000 lives.

KUWAIT CITY // Russia’s foreign minister will meet his Gulf Arab counterparts on Tuesday for talks expected to focus on the Syria conflict.

Kuwait’s foreign ministry spokesman, Khaled Al Jarallah, said Sergei Lavrov trip to Kuwait City is part of regular strategic meetings between the two sides.

“The Gulf-Russian strategic dialogue has been set for February 18... It is an important and vital dialogue that both sides pin great hopes on,” Mr Al Jarallah said.

Russia and Gulf Cooperation Council are at loggerheads over the bloody conflict in Syria that is estimated to have claimed more than 136,000 lives.

Russia is a key supporter of the regime of the president Bashar Al Assad while the GCC states back rebels bidding to oust him.

The meeting comes with the so-called Geneva II talks in Switzerland making no progress despite appeals by UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi to end the “nightmare” of the Syrian people.

Moscow is also blocking a draft resolution in the UN Security Council calling for the lifting of all sieges in Syria.

The resolution aims to allow unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, especially to the besieged Old City of Homs, where thousands of civilians are trapped.

Mr Lavrov on Tuesday called the draft resolution “absolutely unacceptable” because it contained an ultimatum for Mt Al Assad’s government.

Since the start of the Syria crisis, Russia has three times blocked Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Damascus.

It also demands the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syria, including those of Hezbollah and Iran’s Qods Force.

* Agence France-Presse