News ID: 155578
Published: 0723 GMT July 24, 2016

Syria says ready for further peace talks

Syria says ready for further peace talks

Syria's government said on Sunday it was ready for further peace talks with armed opposition groups and that it was intent on a political solution to the five-year conflict.

"Syria ... is ready to continue the Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions, in the hope that this dialogue will lead to a comprehensive solution ... and without foreign interference, with the support of the United Nations," state news agency SANA quoted an official in the Foreign Ministry as saying.

The statement also said Syria would be "ready to coordinate air operations against terrorism as part of the agreement between Russia and the United States," Reuters reported.

The UN hopes to convene a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva in August, its Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said last week.

Previous rounds of talks this year broke down as fighting escalated, particularly around Aleppo, where government forces recently cut off the only road into terrorist-held areas of the divided northern city.

The United States and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, are meanwhile to discuss an American proposal for closer military cooperation and intelligence sharing on Syria to combat terrorist groups.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said this month that Washington and Damascus ally Moscow had reached a common understanding on the steps needed to get Syria's peace process back on track.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 and has since morphed into a complex multi-front war.

At least 280,000 people have been killed and more than half the population have been forced to flee their homes, as world powers are increasingly drawn into the conflict.

Moscow and Washington are nominally co-chairs of international efforts to bring warring sides to the negotiating table with opposition groups.

Moscow has sought to work with Washington on military action against the terrorists of the Daesh terror group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Kerry held marathon meetings with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

They struck an agreement on "concrete steps" to salvage the failing truce and fight terror groups, but did not announce details.

Kerry and Lavrov are expected to meet again on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Laos this week.


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