United Nations envoy to convene next Geneva meeting on Syria in January

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Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold a meeting in Sochi on January 19-20 in preparation for the Congress.

However, Turkey is opposed to the involvement of the US-backed PYD/YPG militants. Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentyev told the Interfax news agency that the parties have yet to agree on the list of participants. He also elaborated on the UN's plan to continue Syrian-Syrian talks.

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A fragile ceasefire brokered at the end of past year by Moscow and Ankara has been bolstered somewhat by the negotiations in Astana, which began in January and have continued in parallel to fruitless United Nations -led talks in Geneva.

The U.N. envoy for Syria has met Russian officials to discuss how to revive the peace process, following another fruitless round of negotiations in Geneva this month.

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De Mistura's carefully worded statement didn't reveal whether he asked Moscow to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to negotiate directly with the opposition.

The U.S. said it will maintain its presence in Syria to fight the Islamic State group and "reinforce stability in liberated areas".

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Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari is chairing Iranian delegation in Kazakhstan to attend the "8th round of Astana meeting on Syria" that kicked off earlier on Thursday. There are now about 1,500 USA troops in Syria that initially came to train and support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the anti-IS campaign.