Syria Contact Group Including Russia, U.S. to Meet in October

Russia and the United States are expected to take part in Syria peace talks in October, along with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, Russia's deputy foreign minister said Monday.

A meeting of an international contact group of the "most influential outside players" will "be pushed forward to October after the U.N. General Assembly," deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

"We have named the participants: Russia, the U.S., Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt," Bogdanov said, adding that others could also be invited.

Russia wants the talks to happen "as quickly as possible," he added.

Bogdanov said the makeup of the contact group had not yet been decided but could include the countries' foreign ministers.

"The level hasn't been decided yet. I think it will be working at multiple levels: experts, deputy ministers and ministers if necessary."

He said the group would meet after the formation of four working groups on Syria in Geneva and would work together with the U.N.'s envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

"Naturally, here it is very important to work in conjunction with the United Nations, with de Mistura," he said.

De Mistura has said he hoped the working groups, which will involve Syrians, could lay the ground for the country's warring factions to find a political solution to the conflict.

Vladimir Putin has sent troops and aircraft to war-torn Syria in support of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Putin is calling for a new coalition to fight the Islamic State jihadists who have seized swathes of Syria and Iraq that would include Russian forces and Assad's regime.

Putin is set to make a major speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later Monday, before holding his first official meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in over two years.

Source: Agence France Presse

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