Kazakh Capital Hosts Third Int’l Round of Syrian Peace Talks
Russia, Iran and Turkey – the guarantor states of the ceasefire in place in Syria since December 30, 2016 - reaffirmed their commitment strengthening the ceasefire regime in Syria during the third round of Syrian peace talks in Astana March 14-15. The talks are known as the Astana Process.
In a joint statement at the end of talks in the Kazakh capital, they announced another meeting May 3-4 in Astana and preliminary expert consultations April 18-19 in Tehran.
The guarantor states also welcomed the recent resumption of peace talks under the UN auspices in Geneva and their continuation on March 23.
Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Akylbek Kamaldinov said the Astana Process has contributed notably to Syrian peace efforts.
“Astana I resulted in a Moscow-Tehran-Ankara agreement on the establishment of a trilateral mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria. Astana II resulted in an agreement to set up a ceasefire monitoring group, encompassing Iran, Russia and Turkey, that would report to the UN, as well as the draft provision on the exchange of detained persons. The draft provision on areas that have joined the ceasefire regime were studied and we can be heartened with what we have achieved despite the uphill task and the uncertainties ahead. These achievements demonstrate that there is real value to the Astana Process,” he said.
“What is important is that the ceasefire is still holding and the Geneva meetings are taking place without overt hostilities or derailment of the talks. It is too early to predict the final solution of any peace process, and more so in the case of the Syrian situation. The way is still long and full of hurdles. However, it is only our unity that will help to fight terrorism and violent extremism,” he noted.
“Kazakhstan remains a neutral and objective mediator in this conflict,” Kamaldinov continued. “Astana continues to be a suitable location for the ongoing talks on Syria. We are determined to ensure that the talks in Astana contribute towards bringing permanent peace to Syria and the region. Kazakhstan will continue to actively contribute to this goal.”
In a press briefing following the talks, head of the Russian delegation and Special Representative of the Russian President on Syrian settlement Alexander Lavrentiev said the violence in the zones of the regime has significantly decreased despite ceasefire violations.
“We hope that the Syrian armed opposition will change their position despite the absence of the delegation at the talks in Astana,” he said.
According to Lavrentiev, the draft provision on constitutional commission ensuing the participation of the population in drafting a new Syrian Constitution and giving impetus to the consideration of the entire complex of tasks for a political settlement in Syria under the auspices of the UN in Geneva was also discussed.
The negotiations involving the guarantor states, the Syrian government and armed opposition, UN, US and Jordan delegations in Astana need to continue, he concluded.
The Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation headed by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Al-Jaafari thanked Kazakhstan for hosting the negotiations.
“Our delegation is ready to discuss all the issues that can contribute to stopping the bloodshed in Syria and put an end to the terrorism that has swept our country today. We are still making great efforts for these talks to be successful in order to achieve the desired agreements,” Al-Jaafari said.
The delegations also exchanged information on reports on ceasefire violations and stressed the need to reduce the violations through increasing the efficiency of the trilateral monitoring mechanism. International assistance for demining of UNESCO cultural heritage sites in Syria, confidence-building measures and other topics toward a political solution were also discussed.