Syria peace talks begin in Kazakhstan

 AP Photo/Sergei Grits


Talks on the Syrian crisis have begun in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana, TASS reports.

The issues topping the meeting’s agenda include strengthening the ceasefire and advancing the negotiation process in order to hold consultations in Geneva on February 8.

On the whole, seven delegations are participating in the meeting including those of the Syrian government and the armed opposition, as well as Russia, Turkey and Iran, who act as guarantors of the ceasefire agreements adopted on December 29. Besides, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s team is also taking part in the talks while US Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol acts as an observer.

Russia’s delegation is headed by Special Presidential Envoy for the Syrian Settlement Alexander Lavrentyev, Iran’s delegation is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Turkey’s delegation is headed by Deputy Undersecretary for the Middle East and Africa at the Foreign Ministry Sedat Onal. Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari leads the Damascus delegation.

The Syrian opposition delegation comprises representatives of the groups active, first and foremost, in the northern and central parts of the country, as well as some of the groups from southern Syria. Jaish al-Islam member Mohammed Alloush is one of the negotiators.

The talks are scheduled to be completed on January 24 at 13:00 local time (7:00 GMT) while at 14:00 local time (8:00 GMT) the final press conference is expected to start. However, the organizers and the participants do not rule out that, if necessary, the talks may be prolonged.

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