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Russia’s Putin hails Syria talks in Astana as foundation for Geneva

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by AFP)

Russia says the latest rounds of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan created a “mechanism” to control the truce holding across the Arab state, and helped revive the United Nations-backed negotiations underway in Geneva, Switzerland.

Since the beginning of 2017, the Kazakh capital, Astana, has hosted two rounds of discussions between the Damascus government and opposition groups, medicated by Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

The Astana talks focused on bolstering the Syria-wide ceasefire between militants and the Syrian government that has been in place since December 30, 2016.

Observers say the Astana discussions served as a warm-up for the UN-led Geneva negotiations, which resumed between Syria’s warring sides on February 23, days after the conclusion of the second round of negotiations in the Kazakh capital.

Commenting on the diplomatic process in Astana on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “a mechanism to control the ceasefire has been created, which is the most important thing.”

“This is the foundation that has allowed the Geneva negotiations to resume,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Monday called for the formation of a joint opposition delegation to the Geneva talks, Ria Novosti reported.

He said representatives of Syria’s Kurdish population should also participate in the negotiations.

Syrian government delegation members (L) hold a meeting of intra-Syria peace talks with the UN team at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Damascus delegation to the Geneva talks is headed by Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari.

However, the opposition side is deeply fractured, with several groups based in different countries attending the talks, a situation which has complicated the ongoing crisis resolution talks in Geneva.

On Sunday, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura held separate talks on core topics with representatives from the Cairo and Moscow platforms of the opposition in Geneva.

De Mistura is scheduled to meet with delegates of the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC) in the Swiss city later today.

HNC negotiator Mohammed Alloush said Monday that his team would hold talks with Russian Foreign Ministry officials in Geneva on “the promises they did not keep.”

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