There is said to be a note of “cautious optimism” going into the second and final day of indirect peace talks between the Syrian government and rebel representatives.
Although day one in the Kazakh capital opened with a war of words between the two sides, the talks did move on to the issue of extending a December 30 ceasefire.
First face-to-face meeting between rebels, Syrian government at peace talks is brief and tense. https://t.co/lyQ5D1jYHC
— The Associated Press (@AP) 23 января 2017 г.
Yahya Al-Aridi, spokesman for the rebel opposition indicated Russia was pushing for a deal:
“We noticed a real understanding on the part of Russia, of the Russians. And we understand that they militarily have achieved what they wanted in Syria. Now they want to translate this military achievement into some sort of a political gain and this political gain cannot happen without this. The requirement for achieving this political gain is a ceasefire.”
Bashar Al-Jaafari who is leading the Syrian government delegation was more circumspect about the talks.
“This meeting has not been set up by the Syrian government, we have been invited to take part . (…)
Refering to the rebel opposition he added, “Turkey is the guarantor of the armed terrorist groups and on this basis we came to this meeting. Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran being the other two guarantors.”
Russian Turkish and Iranian diplomats are said to working on a final communique on extending the cease fire that each side accuses the other of violating.
The opposition says it also wants the lifting of government sieges of opposition-held areas as a “goodwill gesture.”
The talks in Kazakhstan’s capital are the first at which the opposition delegation is formed exclusively of representatives of armed groups.
UN-brokered negotiations in Geneva involving exiled opposition political figures broke down last April with little progress having been made.
More than 300,000 people have been killed and 11 million others displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
— TIME (@TIME) 23 января 2017 г.