An expanded international meeting to discuss Syria held in Vienna

Vienna, SANA – An expanded meeting of the foreign ministers of sixteen countries started on Friday in the Austrian Capital of Vienna to discuss means of pushing forward the political settlement for the crisis in Syria.

The foreign ministers are those of Russia, the US, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Germany, France, Egypt, Italy, Britain, Iraq and Lebanon.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini are attending the talks.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today’s talks in Vienna will focus not “on [President Bashar] al-Assad’s fate but on the Syrian settlement,” stressing that “only the Syrians can determine the political future of Bashar al-Assad.”

He added that the “search for a political resolution of the Syrian conflict has no alternative,” noting that “all the interested sides were taking part in the Vienna talks, mainly states, which can make a contribution into the settlement.”

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed hope to make progress at the meeting, saying that this however is being “so difficult”.

A quartet meeting on Syria that brought together the foreign ministers of Russia, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia was held on Thursday in Vienna, only a week after a similar meeting had earlier taken place.