10/31/2017, 09.44
SYRIA - KAZAKHSTAN
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Seventh round of Astana talks: Syrian conflict, military and humanitarian issues

The two days of closed doors meetings began yesterday. With Raqqa taken from Isis, now the priority is reserved for the path of reconciliation and the peace process. The Syrian crisis can only be resolved "through a political process". On Nov. 28 new round of UN negotiations in Geneva.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Military issues, technical issues and humanitarian crises still underway are the focus of the two-day peace talks on Syria that opened yesterday in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan. Promoted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, the meeting is held behind closed doors and will end with a final press release.

To date, one of the priorities of appointments in Kazakhstan has been the fight against Islamic State militias (IS). With Raqqa's conquest and the jihadist defeat in Syria, priority is now reserved for the path of reconciliation and the peace process.

In the past, the Astana meeting, which gathered Damascus and the rebels together for the first time, proved to be more decisive in the diplomatic efforts promoted by the United Nations in Geneva (Switzerland). In one of these meetings, last May, there was the creation of  "de-escalation zones" of the conflict involving the ceasefire, no fly zones, the immediate supply of humanitarian aid and the return of refugees.

The seventh round of talks is sponsored by Russia and Iran who are close to the government of Damascus and Turkey, the main supporter of the Syrian opposition. The leaders of the three countries seek to re-launch the peace process because "there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict", because the crisis can only be solved through a "political process".

On the eve of the last meeting, in mid-September, Russia and Turkey had announced an agreement for the allocation of joint forces, aimed at maintaining stability in the Idlib province. These joint military operations forced the Jihadist militia in the area to retreat quickly. Russian representative to Astana Alexandre Lavrentiev said Moscow is ready to act as a "mediator" between Turkish forces and Syrian Army soldiers, who qualify as "illegal" with the presence of Ankara troops on the territory.

China, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iraq were also expected to participate in Astana. However, Turkey vetoed the Egyptian presence because the two countries are on opposite sides in the context of another crisis crossing the Middle East and that opposes Riyadh and Doha.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, also addressed the peace talks in Kazakhstan, which renewed the call for a "more stable political solution" for the country. The next round of talks promoted by the United Nations in Geneva is scheduled for 28 November. The attempted agreement between the government and the rebels for a durable ceasefire depends on the political future of President Bashar al-Assad, whose expulsion is an essential precondition to peace in the country for the opposition. (DS)

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