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Kazakhstan to host Syria talks with Iran, Turkey and Russia

United Nations and Jordan are expected to attend as observers [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2019

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Kazakhstan will host new talks on Syria, backed by Iran, Russia and Turkey in effort to reach a political settlement for the eight-year conflict

Kazakhstan said it will host new talks on Syria, backed by Iran, Russia and Turkey in effort to put an end to the eight-year conflict that paralysed the country, media reports noted on Tuesday.

Kazakhstan's foreign ministry confirmed in a statement that delegations from the Syrian regime as well armed opposition groups will take part in the meeting, scheduled for 25 and 26 April.

The talks will also include representatives of the three guarantor states, while the United Nations and Jordan are expected to attend as observers.

The meeting agenda will include talks on Idlib and confidence-building actions to be taken as well as distribution of humanitarian aid.

The April meeting will be the first in Astana for the UN's newly appointed envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen, replacing former envoy Staffan de Mistura, who seemed frustrated at November talks, regretting "a missed opportunity" to end the Syrian conflict.

On Sunday, Pedersen held talks - described by the UN official as "substantial" - with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Damascus, seeking to reach a political settlement.

The Astana process was launched after Russia's military intervention in Syria tipped the balance in favour of the Syrian regime and has gradually eclipsed previous UN-sponsored negotiations scheme known as the Geneva process. 

The Syrian conflict began when Assad's regime responded with brutal military force against peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the 2011 uprisings.

The escalation triggered an armed rebellion fueled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, with millions have been displaced both inside and outside the country.

Turkey of late has become quieter about its initial stated aim of seeing Assad abdicate as it has stepped up cooperation with Russia over Syria.

The US and EU are opposed to Assad staying in power as well as the presence of Iranian and Tehran-commanded fighters in Syria. 

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