Iran, Russia, Turkey begin 8th round of Astana talks on Syria

Tasnim– High-ranking diplomats from Iran, Russia, and Turkey on Thursday began the eighth round of Syria peace talks brokered by the three countries in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Astana is hosting another two-day meeting attended by representatives from Tehran, Moscow, and Ankara, which are the guarantor states that brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016.

The Iranian delegation is chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, while the Turkish delegation is headed by the deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, Sedat Önal, and Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, leads Russia’s delegation.

Bilateral and multilateral talks between the delegations have started at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The Turkish delegation had a meeting with the Russian team. Önal and the Iranian delegation are expected to hold a bilateral meeting at 3.00 p.m. local time (0900GMT), according to Daily Sabah.

Representatives of the Syrian government, armed opposition groups, as well as delegations from the UN, Jordan and the US are also participating in the talks.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced that UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura would attend the meeting on Friday.

Diplomatic efforts to end fighting in Syria gained momentum in 2017 with the announcement of the start of the ceasefire in the Arab country in early January.

The fourth round of Asabi talks in May produced a memorandum of understanding on de-escalation zones in Syria, sharply reducing fighting in the country.

During the sixth round of Astana talks in September, Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed on a deal to establish and patrol a de-escalation zone in Syria’s northern Idlib province. In early October, Turkey deployed tanks and military vehicles on its Syrian border, building up military presence in Idlib.

According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.