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MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. The Syrian government and the opposition will hold talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in the second half of January 2017, before the contacts in Geneva, Qadri Jamil, one of the leaders of the Syrian Popular Front for Change, said.
"This will be a rehearsal of final talks in Geneva," he said. "There is no final information so far, but if February 8 is a preliminary date for the Geneva meeting, then the Astana meeting should be held before it."
"I think we should speak about the second half of January," he said.
Jamil said the talks in Geneva announced by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura do not cancel the meeting in Astana. The opposition politician also said that he is planning to take part in the Astana talks.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that during a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he had suggested that the parties to the Syrian conflict hold a meeting in Astana. Later Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev held telephone talks with both Russian and Turkish leaders expressing his country’s readiness to host such negotiations. Nazarbayev stated that from the very start, Kazakhstan had been supporting international efforts aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis peacefully.