Nazarbayev Opens Syria Peace Talks

Delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey hold talks on Syrian peace in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Jan. 23.Delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey hold talks on Syrian peace in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Jan. 23.

Negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition groups have kicked off in the Kazakh capital of Astana as part of an initiative led by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened the talks, stressing that the Syrian conflict could only be solved “via negotiations”, RT reported.

The militant groups told Reuters the opposition and Syrian government will not have face-to-face negotiations in Astana.

Aleksandr Lavrentiev, the head of Russian delegation in Astana and the Russian president’s special envoy to Syria, confirmed on Sunday that the negotiations would be attended by delegations of the host nations–Russia, Iran and Turkey–as well as a UN delegation headed by the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and the US ambassador to Kazakhstan who has observer status in the Astana talks.

The Syrian government will be represented by Bashar Jaafari, the current permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations. 

In his opening remarks, Jaafari said terrorists should not be included into the ceasefire agreement.

The talks are endorsed by the UN and are expected to be held behind closed doors.

The precise format of the negotiations is still unknown as there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity, with representatives from all sides trying to reach consensus. The host nations are expected to announce the outcome of these talks on Monday before the actual start of the talks.

The two-day event is being held at Rixos Hotel in Astana, with the Kazakh government providing additional security. 

Some 300 journalists from around the world are covering the high-profile gathering, which hopes to cement a lasting ceasefire in Syria.

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