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Moscow hopes Astana talks to improve situation in Syria

Russia expects important decisions on consolidating the ceasefire in Syria and improving the humanitarian situation to be made at the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Middle East and North Africa Department, Sergey Vershinin, said on Friday following meeting with Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on Syrian Issue, Xie Xiaoyan.

"When the talks in Astana begin, we can expect very important decisions, which will help consolidate the cessation of hostilities, reduce the level of violence in the country and improve the humanitarian situation," he said.

"That will create conditions for the broader political process and a broad political dialogue between the Syrians so that they can determine their future," Vershinin added.

"The situation in Syria is going through a very important and sensitive stage," Vershinin said after the meeting. "Today's consultations made it possible for us to exchange views on further steps to implement the cessation of hostilities and relaunch the political process in Syria."

"I briefed our Chinese friends in detail on Russia's efforts to arrange the meeting in Astana, which will be an important step in our efforts to consolidate the ceasefire and support the relaunching of the political process in Geneva," Vershinin added.

Xie Xiaoyan too described the talks in Moscow as very useful. "We had a very useful discussion today, we discussed the whole range of issues. China and Russia should have an opportunity to discuss and coordinate their efforts on Syria," he said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 13Jan17]

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