NUR-SULTAN – The thirteenth round of the Astana Process talks on compliance with the Syrian ceasefire began Thursday behind closed doors in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, the Central Asian country’s Foreign Ministry said.
As in the previous meeting in April, the two-day gathering is to focus on the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib, the composition and implementation of the Syrian constitutional committee and the exchange of prisoners.
Present at the latest round are representatives from Russia, Iran and Turkey – the guarantors of the ceasefire decreed in December 2016, and representatives from the UN, the opposition and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Norway’s Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria, who took over the task of mediator in January, did not travel to Nur-Sultan due to health reasons, the Kazakh ministry said.
The Russian delegation is headed by Moscow’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev.
Iran sent Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s senior aide for special political affairs, Ali Asghar Khaji, while Turkey dispatched Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.
Representing the Damascus government is the permanent representative of Syria to the United Nations, Bachar al-Jaafari.
The Syrian armed opposition delegation is made up of “14 people” according to official sources from the host country.
Observers from Iraq and Lebanon are to participate in the consultations.
The plenary meeting scheduled for Friday will be open to the press, the Kazakh ministry said.