11th Round of Syria Peace Talks Starts in Astana
The 11th round of Syria peace talks in the Astana format started on Wednesday with a meeting between the representatives of Russia and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime in the Kazakh capital, reported Anadolu Agency.
Ahead of the meeting, Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian president's special envoy for Syria, told reporters that the establishment of a constitutional committee for a new constitution, the ceasefire in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, the problems of refugees and the fight against terrorism will be discussed in the meeting.
A meeting of the Astana Working Group established for the release of prisoners is also expected to be held.
The meeting will evaluate a pilot project that saw the mutual and simultaneous release of Syrian detainees both from the Assad regime and opposition sides on Saturday.
The project of the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons was established as part of the Astana process with the participation of Turkey, Russia and Iran -- three guarantor countries of the Astana process -- as well as the UN, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry.
On Tuesday, the UN said its outgoing Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura will meet with top officials from the guarantor countries in Astana to work on establishing a committee to write a new constitution for the war-torn country.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced the arrival of all parties in Astana.
Heading the group on behalf of the main Syrian opposition Ahmed Tuma, the former premier of the Syrian interim government, will stress the lack of sustainable environment for the repatriation of Syrian refugees and the reconstruction of the country, as well as the ongoing regime's detentions in talks with the UN and Russia, according to opposition sources.
The Turkish delegation -- represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedal Onal -- is expected to hold meetings with the opposition group, Russian and Iranian representatives.
The guarantor countries are expected to hold a meeting on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s main session -- where all the sides will meet and a final declaration will be read out.
Iran is represented by Hussein Gabri Ansari, assistant foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, while Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian president's special envoy for Syria represent Russia.
The Syrian regime will be represented by Bashar Jaafari, the regime's permanent representative to the UN.
The conflict in Syria began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
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