Putin and Erdogan 'happy' with Syria congress in Sochi

Kurds mourn during a funeral in Afrin Syria on Monday of civilians and fighters from the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units who were killed in battles as the Turkish army press an offensive against Kurdish militia in the area

Parties at the two-day congress also said in a final statement that they want to bring an end to the ongoing conflict in the region as soon as possible, and urged worldwide help towards this end.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian president Bashar Assad, says it invited 1,600 representatives to the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue but so far only the government and opposition representatives tolerated by it have shown up.

The new body is expected to meet in Geneva and work under the UN.

But the main opposition group, which boycotted the conference, is likely to oppose the outcome as the process of choosing the members favors the Syrian government.

Moscow expects de Mistura and the United Nations to take practical steps to implement the decisions taken at the Sochi Congress, and to actively participate in the drafting of a new constitution for Syria, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C) delivers a speech at the end of a plenary session at the Congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi on January 30, 2018. They included Syrian government representatives backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad backed by Turkey.

The main aim of the talks starting at 10am will be to establish a committee to create a post-war constitution for Syria with UN-backing, according to a draft statement seen by AFP.

The Constitutional Committee will also include delegates from those groups who did not attend the Sochi gathering for whatever reason, Lavrov said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian opposition decided not to participate in the Sochi summit and instead announced that Turkey could do it on its behalf, anonymous diplomatic sources said.

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