Syria peace talks in Astana meant to ‘consolidate’ ceasefire
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that one of the goals of upcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital was to consolidate the frail truce in the war-torn country.
“One of the objectives of the meeting in Astana is first of all to consolidate the ceasefire,” Lavrov said at his annual press conference, referring to talks that are to take place on January 23.
Lavrov added that the talks would also serve as an opportunity to involve rebel field commanders in “the political process” to end bloodshed in Syria.
Organised by rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran, the meetings are the latest bid to put an end to the brutal war raging in Syria since March 2011.
US president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has been invited to take part, but has not yet officially responded.
Lavrov said Tuesday it was “right to invite representatives of the UN and the new US administration” to the Astana talks, but did not say whether the incoming Trump administration had confirmed its attendance.
Russia and Turkey last month brokered a ceasefire in Syria but without the involvement of the United States, a negotiator in previous truces.
The truce went into effect on December 30 and has brought calm to much of Syria although fighting continues in some regions.
Syrian rebel groups said Monday they will attend the talks.
If the Astana meetings are successful, they could bode well for fresh UN-hosted political negotiations on the conflict set for next month in Geneva.