Syria, Russia to hold conference about refugee return to Syria

Syria and Russia are preparing for an international conference about the return of Syrian refugees to their country that will soon take place in the capital Damascus.

The conference, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday in Damascus, was first declared by the Russian Foreign Ministry last month, as it said that Russia would co-organize the conference on Syrian refugees in Damascus in November.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem confirmed on Oct. 25 the Syrian government’s resolve to convene an international conference.

On Oct. 29, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the conference with a visiting Russian delegation headed by Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Syria.

The Syrian presidential media office said the conference is hoped to achieve positive results that could “alleviate the suffering of the Syrian refugees abroad and open the way for them to return to Syria and lead a normal life.”

Earlier on Monday, Assad conducted a video call with Putin, discussing the upcoming conference.

According to the state news agency SANA, Assad told Putin that the return of refugees is a priority for Syria, adding that the Syrian government is not only ready but enthusiastic about it.

The president noted that the majority of the Syrian refugees want to return to Syria “after the state created the appropriate conditions for that.”

He stressed that the conference is just a beginning to resolve the humanitarian issue of the refugees.

However, Assad charged that the problem in Syria is the Western siege imposed by the United States, which is posing a big obstacle in the face of the refugees’ return.

For his side, Putin told Assad that his country supports the conference, adding that the Russian delegation will be the largest to participate in the event.

The Russian leader also stressed that his country will continue to exert efforts to make the conference a success.

Russia will also continue consultations with Syria to facilitate the return of refugees, Putin added.

Putin said the young refugees pose threats to the hosting countries as they might fall under the influence of the extremists.

He added that there are more than 6.5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria, most of whom are capable of returning and working in rebuilding their country.

Also on Monday, Aleksandr Yefimov, the Russian ambassador to Syria, told the pro-government al-Watan online newspaper that his country is optimistic about the success of the conference, noting that new measures will be put in place to support the Syrian economy.