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Syria talks in Astana ’to be held behind closed doors’

Orient Net - Agencies 2017-02-14 15:53:00

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Kazakhstan said Tuesday that a new round of Astana talks on the Syria conflict led by Russia, Turkey and Iran will take place behind closed doors, as the make-up of any opposition delegation remained unclear.

The "closed format" negotiations are set to start Wednesday in the Kazakh capital some three weeks after representatives from Assad regime and the armed opposition failed to make a breakthrough at indirect talks in the city.

The meeting -- pushed by key regime supporter Moscow -- is viewed as a warm-up for UN-led negotiations on the protracted war that are due to begin in Geneva on February 23.

While Kazakh officials said they invited both the Assad regime and opposition for the new talks, several of the regime opponents who took part in the previous Astana talks told AFP that they have not received invitations.

Assad regime has confirmed it will be represented again by its ambassador to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari.

Russia is sending presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev while Iran said it is dispatching deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said he would not participate personally in the latest Astana meeting but that his office would be represented by a "technical team".

Jordan will also be represented by a "high level delegation" government spokesman Mohamed Momani said.

Talks are likely to focus on bolstering a shaky ceasefire on the ground after Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed to establish a "mechanism" aimed at ensuring the truce.

The Kazakhstan talks are due to take place while Assad terroris sand the Russian allies are conducting deadly airstrikes in the neighborhoods of Daraa where at least 6 civilians were killed in the southern Syrian city.

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