Assad positive about Astana peace talks – French lawmaker

Sputnik– Syrian President Bashar Assad is positive about the Syria peace talks in Astana and believes that an agreement might be reached there, a French lawmaker told Sputnik following a meeting with Assad on Sunday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – In late December, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Russian-Turkish resolution on a ceasefire regime in Syria, as well as on holding political talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Astana, Kazakhstan in January 2017.

A day earlier, a nationwide ceasefire between Syrian government troops and several opposition factions came into force. Russia and Turkey serve as guarantors of the deal that paves the way for negotiations between the warring parties. “I am very positive about Astana talks, he said pointing that on the contrary to Geneva talks, there could be a true representation of real Syrian groups and parties in Astana. He thinks it is possible to reach an agreement there,” a member of the delegation of the French lawmakers, Nicolas Dhuicq, said.

“He was much more confident about country’s future and these are his own words than when we saw him during our previous trip in March, because the military situation has improved. He was sorry for the incident in Aleppo airport, when our group came under Islamists’ shelling,” Dhuicq added.

Earlier in the day, a group of French lawmakers met with Assad in Damascus during their visit to the Middle East country.

On December 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed in a phone call the possibility of a meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana between the parties to the Syrian conflict with Russia, Iran and Turkey as potential mediators.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev supported this initiative and expressed readiness to provide a platform for such talks in the Kazakh capital. Russia has stressed that the Astana and UN-backed Geneva platforms are not rivals, with the latter set to complement the former.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Astana talks could take place January 23 provided that the ceasefire regime was upheld on the ground. He added that Russian experts were set to arrive to the Turkish capital of Ankara on January 9-10 in preparation for the Astana talks.