Astana to host 5th round of Syria talks in early July: Iran diplomat
Iran and Russia have announced that the fifth round of the negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the Syria crisis is set to be held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on July 4-5.
On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari told Azad news agency (ANA) that during the previous rounds of the Astana talks, mediated by Iran, Russia and Turkey, the trio signed documents to de-escalate tensions in Syria.
A joint working group of the three guarantor states has held three sessions, two in Ankara and one in Oslo, to specify technical and geographical details of four safe zones in Syria, he added.
“An important part of the issues raised among the three countries is resolved and general agreements have been reached on them,” said Jaberi Ansari, adding that the three sides have agreed to follow up on the remaining issues through diplomatic channels.
The Astana talks have brought representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups to the negotiating table over the Syria conflict, which broke out in March 2011.
Four rounds of the discussions took place on January 23-24, February 15-16, March 14-15 and May 3-4. The fifth round was expected to be held in June, but it was postponed.
During the fourth round of the talks, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara signed an agreement to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria.
Iran and Russia are allies of the Syrian government, while Turkey supports the militant groups operating against the Damascus administration.
Separately on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, “According to the latest information, the meeting on Syria in Astana is currently set for July 4 and 5.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also told reporters in Beijing that United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura would take part in the Astana talks, noting that the safe zones in the Arab country “are one of the possible options to move forward together.”
Furthermore, Kazakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying that the participants in the Astana negotiations “plan to discuss the situation in Syria, the process of abiding by agreements reached during previous rounds of talks in Astana, including the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria.”
The Astana process helped kick-start a series of peace talks for Syria that had been going on under the auspices of the UN in the Swiss city of Geneva but that had stalled for almost a year.
A source in Geneva confirmed to AFP that the upcoming Astana talks and announced that the fresh round of the Geneva talks would start on July 10.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Saudi Arabia and the US to join the Syria peace process in Astana.