Iranian, Syrian Top Negotiators Hold Talks in Astana

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari have met in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

The two diplomats, who are heading their countries’ delegations to the eighth round of Astana Talks on Syria, exchanged views on the latest political and field developments in Syria.

Jaberi Ansari and Jaafari also discussed the prospect of Syrian-Syrian negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the crises in the war-torn country.

The new round of Syria peace talks backed by powerbrokers Iran, Russia, and Turkey kicked off in Astana on Thursday.

Delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey along with the Syrian government’s representatives and a 20-strong opposition delegation have all arrived in Astana for two days of talks.

Reports say the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected to attend the second day of talks on Friday. On Thursday, he is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow.

The eighth round of talks come after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces during a surprise visit to the war-torn country last week.

The Astana talks will also focus on shoring up the buffer zones, as well as issues including humanitarian aid and freeing prisoners, the foreign ministry has said.

Recent rounds of talks in Kazakhstan have focused on implementing a plan for four “de-escalation zones” to stem fighting between government and the militants.

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