US troops cannot stay in Syria without permission of Damascus – Moscow

US troops cannot stay in Syria without permission of Damascus – Moscow

Without the approval of the Syrian government the US military cannot stay in the country, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy to Syria Aleksandr Lavrentiev said on Saturday.

“Our position is absolutely clear – American troops should not stay in the territory of a sovereign state without the permission of its government,” he stated.

The US military presence can harm the peace efforts in the country, namely the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will be held in Sochi on January 29-30, Lavrentiev said. Moscow, however, wishes to see the US act as an observer during the meeting.

The UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is also expected to take part in the meeting. A draft list of the people to participate in the Congress is ready, but it will take a couple of days to finalize it, according to Lavrentiev.

“The Congress’ participants will receive invitations after that and their arrival will be ensured,” he said. Russian officials met their Turkish and Iranian colleagues in Sochi on January 19-20 to discuss the preparation of the Congress, scheduled for late January.

“Several procedural issues have been raised during the meeting today, but there’s been no miscommunication between the representatives of all the three delegations. We all believe that the Congress is an event of the utmost importance,” Lavrentiev stressed.

The Congress is expected to provide a dialogue platform for the Syrian government and opposition well as to launch the process of creating a new constitution.