Syria peace talks to commence in Russia despite opposition boycott

SOCHI, Russia: Delegates on Monday arrived in Russia for peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, but hopes of progress were dimmed after the main opposition group and the Kurds said they would boycott the event. Syria-backer Moscow has invited 1,600 people to the talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as part of a broader push to consolidate its influence in the Middle East and start hammering out a path to a political solution to end the seven-year war.

The aim of the Tuesday congress is to bring Syria closer to creating a post-war constitution, after two days of separate UN-backed talks in Vienna last week closed with the warring sides not even meeting face-to-face to discuss the groundwork for the document. The Kremlin has downplayed expectations of the event, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists on Monday that “breakthroughs in the task of political regulation in Syria are hardly possible.”