Syria peace talks in Astana constructive: Envoy

Press TV – Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations has expressed satisfaction with the latest round of the intra-Syrian negotiations in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, saying the discussions were “constructive.”

Bashar al-Ja’afari, who also serves as the head of the Syrian delegation to the peace talks, announced on Wednesday that he was concluding his participation in the negotiations organized by Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

An official paper was produced on demining the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which was fully liberated Palmyra from the grip of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group earlier this month, he added.

Meanwhile, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara said in a joint statement read out by Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Akylbek Kamaldinov that they had “initiated discussions on international assistance for demining of the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Syria.”

The trio had also reached a consensus on “reporting ceasefire violations [in Syria], ensuring a decrease in breaches and bolstering the effectiveness of the trilateral monitoring mechanism,” he added.

Kamaldinov further noted that the next Astana meeting will be held on May 3-4, with a preparatory meeting due in the Iranian capital on April 17-19.

The third round of consultations aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria wrapped up on Wednesday. The talks gathered the Syrian government and opposition at the negotiating table.

The negotiations started on Tuesday with a meeting between the UN and Russian delegations, and continued with more consultations among the representative teams.

Astana hosted two rounds of the negotiations respectively in January and February.

The militants had earlier boycotted this round of the talks, claiming they had to first make sure about Damascus and its allies’ adherence to the ceasefire.

On Wednesday, however, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said the militants’ delegation would come to Astana to attend the negotiations at night.

The Interfax news agency cited a representative with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) as saying that the militant group would be sending five officers to the negotiations.

Meanwhile, Osama Abu Zeid, an FSA delegate to the Astana talks, announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing “personal reasons.”

Representatives of the Syrian government and militant groups along with other attendees take part in the first session of Syria peace talks at Astana’s Rixos President Hotel on January 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The talks are hoped to positively contribute to a similar process in Geneva brokered by the UN. The Swiss city has so far hosted four rounds of discussions, with the next scheduled for March 23.

Addressing the attendees, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the Astana talks will create conditions for the resolution of the Syrian crisis within the framework of the Geneva process, Russia’s Sputnik network reported.

“I am confident that the meeting in Astana will provide the necessary conditions allowing to find the acceptable solution of Syrian crisis for all the interested parties in the framework of Geneva process under the auspices of the UN and will be a significant step forward to peace and stability in Syria. I wish you successful and fruitful negotiations,” the statement read out by the Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.