Astana Talks Focused on Political Syria Solution

Astana Talks Focused on Political Syria SolutionAstana Talks Focused on Political Syria Solution

A lawmaker said foreign sponsors of a six-year-old militancy aimed at toppling the Syrian government are doing their best to derail the positive peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana by pressuring Turkey to change its stance.

"Since the first Astana meeting, some western and regional states have made considerable efforts to undermine the trilateral initiative" designed to help restore peace to the war-ravaged Arab country, Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told ICANA on Friday.

However, the lawmaker said despite intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to weaken the process, the Astana format has a bright prospect for ending a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

"That's because I believe all countries have realized the reality that there can't be any solution to the crisis, except a political one," he said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Astana hosted the second round of intra-Syrian peace talks, organized by Tehran and Moscow, the major backers of the Syrian government in its anti-terror drive, and Turkey, a major supplier of arms to militants.

According to Turkey's Anadolu Agency, Russia, Turkey and Iran, which had agreed in the first round to create a ceasefire monitoring group, decided to set up a joint commission to do so, whose technical details will be finalized in a later meeting in Turkey.

But talks among representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups, which were delayed due to the late arrival of the opposition delegation, have apparently failed to produce concrete results.

Representatives of Jordan, a Syria neighbor, and the UN and US also attended the two-day talks.


  Positive Assessment  

The Russian Foreign Ministry described the Astana talks as "successful".

According to RT, Alexander Lavrentiev, the head of the Russian delegation in Astana, said his assessment of the talks was positive.

"I cannot say that it is a breakthrough, but it is a step forward," he told journalists after the negotiations.

The history of trilateral cooperation on Syria goes back to a deal on evacuation of militants from Aleppo in mid-December, following which Syrian troops gained a major victory by retaking the second biggest Syrian city.

On December 20, the three sides' foreign ministers sat down for Syria talks in Moscow, where they agreed on principles of a Syrian settlement.

Then they agreed to a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which excluded the self-styled Islamic State and Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (recently rebranded to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terrorist groups.

The Syrian truce went into effect on December 30 and has been largely holding since then. It prepared the ground for the Astana talks on January 23-24 between the Syrian government and a delegation of armed opposition groups.

The next round of separate UN-brokered peace talks on Syria in Geneva—first scheduled for Feb. 8—has been postponed to Feb. 23.


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