Russia Invites Trump to Send Aides to Syria Talks in Astana

  • Talks offer first chance to meet with Trump team, Lavrov says
  • Lavrov says Russia seeks closer ties with Trump on Syria

Russia wants incoming U.S. President Donald Trump to send officials to planned Syria talks in Kazakhstan next week in what would be the first formal contact with the new administration, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We consider it right to invite” the new Trump administration to send officials to the planned talks on Jan. 23 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, Lavrov told a news conference Tuesday in Moscow. Russia hopes that “cooperation on the Syria crisis and other problems connected to the fight against terrorism will be more effective” with the U.S. under Trump than during Barack Obama’s presidency, he said.

Sergei Lavrov on Jan. 17.

Photographer: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Russia welcomes Trump’s stated priority of fighting terrorism and regards him as someone who won’t apply “double standards” on the issue, Lavrov said.

The planned Syria peace talks are part of a deal struck between Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow last month that left the U.S. sidelined. The agreement included a cease-fire in Syria and an offer to act as guarantors of any settlement to end nearly six years of conflict that has killed more than 300,000 people and sent millions fleeing to neighboring countries and to Europe. Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels, including militants supported by the Obama administration and by European states.

While some officials from the Syrian political opposition are refusing to attend the talks, the Assad government and armed militant groups that have been fighting the regime will be represented in Astana, Lavrov said.

Trump’s team will study an invitation to join the Syria talks after his inauguration on Friday, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news service reported, citing an unidentified person close to the incoming administration.

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