MOSCOW Feb 5 Russia supports the continuation
of talks on the Syrian crisis under United Nations auspices,
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
In an interview published on the ministry's web site on
Sunday, Lavrov said international talks on Syria that took place
in Kazakhstan's capital Astana in January were a "breakthrough
step" in efforts to resolve the crisis.
The format of Astana talks between representatives of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, however, should
not replace the Geneva talks led by UN special envoy Staffan de
Mistura, Lavrov said.
The next round of Geneva talks have been scheduled for Feb.
20, diplomats told reporters last Tuesday. They had been planned
to begin on Feb. 8 but Lavrov said last week that they had been
The minister also reiterated Moscow's stance on relations
with new U.S. President Donald Trump. Lavrov said the two
countries were in a position to solve bilateral issues, improve
ties and coordinate efforts to fight "international terrorism",
but only on the basis of mutual respect.
(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; editing by John Stonestreet)