Russian Federation promises veto as UN Security Council to vote on Syria sanctions

But speaking as the week-old Geneva talks draw towards a close with little sign of progress, HNC delegation chief Nasr al-Hariri said everyone is waiting for the new USA administration of President Donald Trump to engage.

"We sincerely hope to persuade Russian Federation to stand by the Syrian people", said HNC delegation chief Nasr al-Hariri after his latest talks with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. "We are here to... send a message to the new American administration which is trying... to fight terrorism, that we are the side working for peace and security in Syria".

Deputy head of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC) delegation Yahya Kodmani has expressed hope for constructive talks on Syria in Geneva and a lasting ceasefire.

"We met with (Syrian government negotiator Bashar) Ja'afari and he reconfirmed that he is not against the agenda proposal, but he said that terrorism should not be ignored and should also be on the agenda", Gatilov said. While new President Donald Trump has called for an alliance with Russian Federation to fight the jihadists, he's also branded Iran as the "number one terrorist" threat even as the Kremlin insists on including Iranian-backed and Assad forces in the anti-terrorist campaign in Syria.

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"It's complicated to talk to the Russians".

Resolution 2254 lays the basis for discussions on a political transition, including a new constitution, UN-supervised elections and accountable governance.

The opposition has long distrusted Russia as a peace broker, and a ceasefire backed by Russia, Iran and Turkey has not entirely stopped the fighting. "There is common understanding that we need to move ahead in resolving the Syria crisis", Gatilov said, adding the sides outlined their approaches to finding solutions to the Syria crisis.

"Their policy is still unknown", said a Western diplomat at the talks.

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It announced ahead of the talks that it would not walk out - as it did last time - and it has agreed to discuss all the items on the agenda set by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy mediating the discussions.

The Geneva peace process has barely reached first gear, with five days of discussion exclusively on how to arrange the talks. Hariri said Ja'afari may have had his arm twisted. "So, I think it was quite useful", he said.

The opposition has also accused Russian Federation of helping Assad crush all his opponents in the name of counter-terrorism, even those committed to the ceasefire who are not members of groups designated as terrorists by the United Nations.

"Logically speaking, why would the regime give up something in Geneva that the armed opposition failed to gain militarily on the ground?" asked Jihad Makdissi, who leads a separate opposition organization called the Cairo Group.

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"Russia has offered to hold talks in Astana under its patronage, we want to see it in Geneva as well", the oppositionist said.