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The New Arab

US to miss Russia meeting with UN Syria envoy

Staffan de Mistura will meet with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister on Monday [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 April, 2017

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UN's Staffan de Mistura has announced a 'intense bilateral meeting' with Russia about the Syria war, but the US will be missing from the talks with no explanation given.

Russia is set to meet with the UN's envoy for Syria next week without the presence of US officials, after the possibility of a triangular meeting between the three parties appearing to fall apart.

UN peace mediator Staffan de Mistura said Thursday his meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov will take place on Monday in Geneva.

"The trilateral meeting is not off the table, it is simply being postponed", de Mistura told reporters.

When asked why Trump administration officials would not be attending, the UN envoy simply replied: "You should ask them, frankly."

Moscow, which has backed Syria's embattled regime, and opposition-backer Washington are the key foreign powers involved in Syria's ongoing war.

De Mistura said Monday's meeting with Gatilov "will be a very intense bilateral meeting", and reiterated his desire to convene a sixth round of UN-backed talks involving Syrian rivals next month.

The UN envoy had previously urged the US for greater clarity on its vision for the Syria talks, amid a more liberal approach to military action from the Trump administration.

US officials have in recent weeks voiced commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict, despite launching a missile attack on a Syrian airbase earlier this month. 

Following the attack on 7 April, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that the strike was a one-off to send a warning message to Damascus following its chemical attack that killed over 80 civilians.

Previous rounds of talks have failed to produce concrete results, with the future of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad being a key point of contention between the rivals.

Earlier this month, Tillerson suggested that defeating the Islamic State group is Washington's chief priority in Syria, ahead of stabilising the country and deciding Assad's future.

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