Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s response to a media question about US non-participation in the 10th International Meeting on Syria
Question: Can you please comment on the US refusal to send representatives to the 10th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format, to be held in Sochi on July 30 and 31?
Maria Zakharova: Indeed, the US has declined an invitation that was sent to them to attend this event as an observer. This response is regrettable, keeping in mind that Washington constantly gives assurances that it is willing to help the political process take place in Syria. This next meeting in Sochi is dedicated precisely to this objective. Also, we have always stressed that the Astana format is in no way an alternative to Geneva. Rather, it is designed to work out the practical matters for progress on this track in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
We see the US’s reluctance to send representatives to Sochi as a desire to lower the importance of the Astana format and discredit the implementation of the mediatory efforts in Syrian affairs that Washington is unable to put under its control. Moreover, the United States’ call to prioritise the Geneva format, including under the pretext of aiding the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, looks disingenuous, given the UN envoy’s concerned personal involvement in the Sochi event.