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Published On: Tue, Aug 8th, 2017

Delegations meet in Iran to plan Astana IV talks on Syria

nsnbc : Iranian, Russian and Turkish diplomats are meeting in the Iranian capital Tehran to plan the next round of the peace talks and technical talks for Syria in the Kazakh capital Astana. The Astana IV talks have been scheduled for the end of August.

Previous round of Astana Talks in January 2017 (archives)

Previous round of Astana Talks in January 2017 (archives)

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told reporters “As it had been planned before, a meeting of experts from guarantor states is held these days in Tehran. … The agenda for the next round of talks in Astana will be defined based on the results of this meeting.”

Iran, Russia and Turkey have held five rounds of peace talks between Syrian regime and so-called moderate rebel groups in Astana, Kazakhstan, since January. “There are no changes regarding the timeframe and we are preparing to hold the talks in late August,” Abdrakhmanov added.

For the past few days, the Kazakh Foreign Minister has been in Iran, where he attended the re-inauguration ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani. In May, the guarantors agreed to a plan for de-escalation zones in Syria. The zones have been implemented in piecemeal.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday announced such a zone north of the Syrian city of Homs. Additionally, Moscow sent military police to eastern Ghouta near Damascus and to southwest Syria to support the de-escalation zones in late July.

With halts to the fighting being the ultimate goal so political progress can be achieved, Russia, Jordan and the United States reached a ceasefire and de-escalation agreement for southwestern Syria in early July.

This came after the US military destroyed a tank of militiamen loyal to the Syrian regime, which the US asserted ignored warnings, was outside of its zone and prompted a risk to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which had called for an air strike.

The United Nations, United States and Jordan have at different times sent observers to the Astana talks, which have run concurrently with the UN-brokered, more politically-geared Geneva peace talks.

Syria has been embroiled in a six-year-long war that started with legitimate protests which were coopted by militants, including massively foreign-backed militants. The war has thus far resulted in the death of at least 400,000 people according to the United Nations.

CH/L – nsnbc 08.08.2017

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