14 Sep 2017 - 3:01
New round of Syria talks begins today in Astana
The sixth round of talks on the ceasefire in Syria will start in the Kazakh capital of Astana today, in the presence of the sponsors of the negotiations — Turkey, Russia and Iran.
The parties sponsoring and participating in the negotiations are seeking tangible progress at the sixth meeting. One of the most important topics to be discussed is the establishment of the “tension reduction zones” in Idlib, and thereafter, the establishment of de-escalation zones in southwestern Syria, eastern Ghouta and in Homs suburbs.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a recent meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, underlined the importance of the meetings that will be hosted by Astana on the Syrian crisis, stressing the completion of the preliminary talks and that tomorrow’s meetings will be a final stage for the talks aimed at solving the crisis. Erdogan expressed hope that the Astana talks would be an end to the steps taken, thus contributing to facilitate the Geneva talks to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed hope that de-escalation zones in Syria would be strengthened by law during the meeting of Astana 6. He said that three de-escalation zones have been created, and currently work is underway to establish a fourth one in Idlib. Lavrov stressed that the objectives of Russia and the United States in this area are identical, as the two countries understand the responsibility vested on them by action in Syria.
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said the sixth round of talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran on ending the Syrian civil war, would focus on the troops the three countries plan to deploy there. It said that the meeting would review several documents relating to the mandates of the non-escalation monitoring forces. Work will continue to reach an agreement on forming these forces in Idlib, where Moscow, Ankara and Tehran plan to map the non-escalation areas in Idlib, Homs and Ghouta, the ministry added.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov announced that the Syrian opposition forces would participate as a “first step” in the sixth round of Astana talks.
The fifth round of the “Astana” talks on Syria concluded on July 5, without signing documents, but the sponsoring states; Turkey, Russia and Iran, expressed satisfaction with the progress made in delineating the de-escalation zones, especially with the parties’ agreement on the joint working group of sponsoring countries.
The Astana agreement came after the failure of the previous Turkish-Russian efforts to prolong the cease-fire reached by Russia and the factions of the Syrian armed opposition, mediated by Turkey in Ankara, on December 29, 2016, where Moscow sought, through this agreement, to launch a political track in Astana, that aim at stabilizing the cease-fire.