A meeting of experts from Russia, Iran and Turkey, the three guarantors of the Syria-wide ceasefire, is to be held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, ahead of the 4th round of peace talks there between Syria’s warring sides.
The preparatory consultations will take place later on Tuesday as delegates gather in Astana for the Syria negotiations due on May 3 and 4.
Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Anuar Zhainakov said the Syrian government delegation, headed by Bashar Ja’afari, the Arab country’s ambassador to the United Nations, and the opposition delegation led by Mohammed Alloush, had arrived in Astana.
“Delegations of the Syrian government, the UN experts, the experts of the guarantor countries … arrived in the country. Heads of delegations of Turkey and Russia will arrive tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi said that “16 representatives of [Syria’s] armed groups” had arrived in Astana.
On Monday, the office of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced that the official would be among those attending the latest round of the Syria peace talks.
“In view of the urgency and importance of re-establishing a de-escalation of the situation in Syria and moving on confidence-building measures, he (de Mistura) has agreed to attend the meeting as an observer at the invitation of the Kazakh government,” it added.
The Astana talks have brought representatives from the government in Damascus and opposition groups to the negotiating table. The first round of the Astana talks took place on January 23-24, followed by the second round on February 15-16 and the third round on March 14-15.
The Astana negotiations helped kick-start a series of peace talks for Syria that had been going on under the auspices of the UN but that had stalled for almost a year.
The peace talks are aimed at bringing an end to the foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which began in March 2011. Syria blames the conflict on some Western states and their regional allies that have long pushed for the ouster of the Damascus government.