Delegation calls for conference on refugees in Syria

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (AP) – Syrian President Bashar Assad met with a high-level Russian delegation advocating for jointly hosting an international conference on refugees in the capital Damascus next month.

Western nations and many of the more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees are against an international conference on the return of refugees and displaced persons prior to a political resolution to the nine-year-old war.

Another six million Syrians have been displaced inside the country.

A United Nations (UN)-facilitated political process has been stuck for months and many Western countries blame the Assad government for blocking progress.

Many Syrians and Western countries believe conditions in Syria are not ripe for the mass return of refugees who escaped the war.

It is also not clear whether some of the largest hosts of Syrian refugees, such as Turkey, would attend a conference held in Damascus.

The proposed dates for the Russia-sponsored conference are November 11-12.

The Russian delegation, led by President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, met with Assad, according to state news agency SANA.