Astana talks on Syria enter second day

The ninth round of Astana talks on Syria continued on Tuesday after an opposition delegation arrived in capital Astana in the early hours.

The opposition delegation comprises of 24 people representing all of Syria, according to sources that attended the meeting but wished to remain anonymous due to media restrictions. The delegation is chaired by former premier of the Syrian interim government Ahmed Tuma.

Opposition sources speaking to Anadolu Agency said their agenda for the meeting includes working on a document on the condition of captives and hostages as well as completing ceasefire monitoring points in Idlib by Turkish soldiers, which would also secure nearly 4 million Syrians.

A Turkish delegation, chaired by Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal, met the opposition delegation in Astana at 0430 GMT.

Following the meeting, Turkey, Iran and Russia are expected to hold a trilateral guarantors’ meeting.

The main meeting, which is to be attended by all parties, is expected to be held in the afternoon, during which a final declaration would be announced.

According to sources, all parties have agreed to maintain the monitoring points in Idlib built by Turkey; third meeting for the peace talks is planned to be held in Turkey next month.

Working group on the release of captives and hostages have also made progress, the sources added.

Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, leads his delegation while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari heads the Iranian delegation.

During Monday’s meeting, latest developments in the de-escalation zone, the releases of captives and hostages were addressed by representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran — the guarantor states that brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016.

Delegations from Jordan and the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura are taking part in the talks as observers, while the U.S. did not participate in the talks.

Turkish army has set up its 11th observation point in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province in accordance with the Astana process, according to reporters on site. Under the Astana agreement, Turkey will maintain 12 points from Idlib’s north to south.

During the eighth round of peace talks aimed at ending the Syria conflict on December 21-22, 2017, the delegations agreed on the release of detainees and clearing mines at historical sites in the country.


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