Syrian deputy prime minister in Moscow

MOSCOW, April 16 (UPI) -- Talks between Syrian government officials and opposition leaders could take place later this year, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said in Moscow.

Jamil arrived Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the Syrian conflict with Russian officials. He met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov regarding a political resolution to the conflict.


"Whereas in the past, this idea was theoretical, now it can be put into practice and become reality," he was quoted by state-funded broadcaster RIA Novosti as saying. "We are currently discussing details of negotiations: which opposition groups will participate, what the agenda will be and how all of it can be done quickly."

The Syrian civil war is in its third year. The United Nations estimates that at least 70,000 people have died as a result of the violence and more than 1 million people have been displaced.

Efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government for the bloodshed have been met with opposition from permanent member Russia, which says draft resolutions lack balance.

Syria counts Russia as a primary supplier of military equipment.

Foreign ministers at a Group of Eight meeting last week in London said any political transition should give the Syrian people the opportunity to determine their own future.

"They called for the U.N. Security Council to remain seized of this matter," a joint ministerial statement read.

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