BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 P.M.) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, in Sochi on Tuesday, with a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia initiated the current congress which has the support of the United Nations, together with the partners of the Astana Process – Iran and Turkey, influential Arab states, and neighbours of Syria, we have tried make this event fully representative, because only the people of Syria can determine the future of its country,” the message said.
He then thanked “colleagues from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey, the United Nations for common collective work in preparing this forum.”
Some of the participants responded with heckling during his speech, prompting others to reply with chants of “Long live Russia”.
The Congress is sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, and is aimed at boosting the Syrian peace process by supplementing the UN-sponsored Geneva talks.