Astana, SANA- The fourth round of Astana talks on the crisis in Syria started on Wednesday with the participation of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation headed by Dr. Bashar al- Jaafari.
The Syrian Arab Republic delegation held meetings with the Iranian delegation headed by Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Jaberi Ansari, and the Russian delegation headed by the Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, in addition to meeting UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura who is participating in the meeting along with a high-level delegation from the UN.
The Astana 4 meeting began in the Kazakh capital on Wednesday, and the first day’s round of talks will be limited to bilateral meetings between the participating delegations, while the plenary session is scheduled to be held on Thursday.
In the same context, the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced that he will hold bilateral meetings with the participating delegations on fixing the cessation of hostilities in Syria.
A meeting between the Iranian and Russian delegations started in the framework of the Astana meeting. The Russian delegation is headed by Russia’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev while the Iranian delegation is headed by Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Jaberi Ansari.
The Russian delegation also held a similar meeting with the US delegation headed by US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs Stuart Jones.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Anuar Zhainakov said that talks will be held behind closed doors, adding that some of the
participating delegations arrived in Astana late last night and others arrived this morning.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that all delegations confirmed their participation in Astana meeting on Syria including representatives of the armed opposition.
Today’s round of talks will be limited to bilateral meetings between the participating delegations, while the plenary session is scheduled to be held on Thursday.
Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry: “Armed opposition” delegation to resume participation in Astana meeting on Thursday
Head of the Asia and Africa Deparmtnet at the Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry Aidarbek Tumatov said that the “Armed opposition” delegation will resume its participation in the Astana 4 talks on Syria on Thursday.
Earlier today, a source close to the Astana 4 meeting said that representatives of the “armed opposition” have issued a memo to other participants saying that they withdrew from the talks.
Tumatov told journalists that all eyes are now on the Astana meeting on which hinges the success of the Geneva talks and the political track for resolving the crisis in Syria, explaining that the “opposition” delegation left because they concluded their meetings after meeting UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the US delegation, adding that everything is proceeding as scheduled.
He went on to say that bilateral meetings between delegations are discussing a memo on areas for reducing tensions and documents on bolstering the cessation of combat activities system, exchange of detainees, and the situation in reconciliation areas, adding that due to changes on the ground, the “opposition” found it necessary to participate in this round of talks which has become more important.
The AFP had quoted a source among the “opposition” factions as saying that they suspended their participation in the sessions, while de Mistura said that he doesn’t know anything about this suspension.
H. Zain/ R.J. / Hazem Sabbagh