Russia slams UN envoy for 'sabotaging' resolution on Syria peace talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks in Minsk, Belarus, Nov 22, 2016.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks in Minsk, Belarus, Nov 22, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday (Nov 22) accused the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura of "sabotaging" a resolution backing peace talks between the regime and opposition.

"The United Nations, in the form of its special representative Staffan de Mistura, has been sabotaging the resolution for more than six months," Mr Lavrov said in televised remarks while on a visit to Minsk.

The resolution calls for "holding inclusive Syrian talks without preconditions", Mr Lavrov said. "It seems there is no other way except for the patriotic opposition and the government to take the initiative into their own hands and organise Syrian dialogue," he said.

UN Security Council Resolution 2254 adopted in December 2015 proposed the establishment of a body to head the political transition.

But it has been plagued by disagreements over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the Syrian opposition does not want to see in any future role.

In January and February, Mr De Mistura oversaw indirect talks which were cut short as the opposition denounced the regime's offensive in northern Syria that was bolstered by Russia's forces.

Despite efforts to relaunch the talks in April, they eventually collapsed when the opposition announced it would not formally participate as long as government forces bomb civilians.

Russia has been flying air raids in Syria since September 30, 2015, intervening on the request of Mr Assad, Moscow's long-time ally.