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Russia braces for new diplomatic push on Syria

Russia's frenzy of diplomatic and military activity around Syria in recent days suggests Moscow is pushing its own initiatives before a new UN envoy on Syria takes the reins and before Democrats take control of the House in the United States.
Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan (L) speaks with Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev during a Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser - RC19F177B570
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MOSCOW — Russia’s envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and senior officials from the Russian Defense Ministry, met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Nov. 6. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported there was a “comprehensive exchange of views” on the current situation in Syria. The focus was the Russian-Turkish memorandum on Idlib signed in Sochi on Sept. 17; the formation of the Constitutional Committee; Syria’s post-war restoration; and the creation of conditions for the return of refugees. The Russians also briefed Syria on the results of the Oct. 27 meeting in Istanbul between the presidents of Turkey, Russia, Germany and France.

The Russian emissaries arrived in Syria from Tehran, where they were hosted by the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani. The Russian envoy and Shamkhani discussed political resolutions to the Syrian conflict. Shamkhani praised the trilateral cooperation between Russia, Iran and Syria, stressing it had become “a leading factor in giving the upper hand to the Syrian army against terrorism.”

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