An international group to discuss a peace plan for Syria is due to meet in October and will include actors at the opposite end of the geopolitical spectrum such as the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying a meeting of the "most influential foreign players" should take place in October after the UN general assembly session. "We have named the participants as being Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt. Others may also be invited," he added, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
He also said a new round of peace talks between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition may take place in Moscow. "It's so far too early to speak of concrete dates because we're not doing this for ourselves, but for the Syrians. If the Syrians have a desire to talk in Moscow, then we are always ready to give them a venue for such meetings," he said.
Russia is exploiting the lack of initiative from the Western countries to seize the leadership in an international effort to end the civil war in Syria. World leaders are gathering in New York at the UN general assembly, where Russian president Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama will come face-to-face to discuss Ukraine and Syria.
Ahead of the meeting, Putin mocked US efforts to end the Syria war, branding its support for rebel forces as illegal and ineffective. "It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as four or five people actually carry weapons," he said.
Moscow has sent tanks and warplanes to support Assad's war against the opposition. Putin said Russia was trying to create a "coordinated framework" to resolve the conflict. "We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists," the Russian president said in an interview on 27 September on CBS's 60 Minutes. He revealed there are more than 2,000 militants in Syria from the Soviet Union and urged to "help President al-Assad fight them there, in Syria".