MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the southern Russian resort of Sochi on Friday.
The talks are expected to focus in particular on the situation in Syria. Ban earlier told RIA Novosti in an interview that he hopes to discuss Syrian settlement issues during his visit to Russia with account for the country’s important role in international affairs.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.
Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.
The UN chief is in Russia on an official visit on May 16-19. The visit is Ban’s sixth to Russia, with the previous one paid in April 2011.
The presidential press service said the Sochi talks would touch upon the situation in the Middle East, North Africa, on the Korean Peninsula and around the Iranian nuclear program, the Mali conflict, the Cyprus settlement, the UN’s coordinating role in the fight against terrorism and the drug threat and other issues.
The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said it hopes Ban will discuss social and economic aspects of the United Nations activities and plans for the organization’s development after 2015.