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ASTANA, January 23. /TASS/. Negotiations on Syria officially start on Monday in Astana to last for two days. A joint press conference is planned after the negotiations.
The opening of negotiations is scheduled for 13:00 local time (10:00 Moscow Time). President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev will give a welcoming speech. The negotiations are scheduled to complete on December 24 at 13:00 local time. The final press conference is scheduled for 14:00 (11:00 Moscow Time), the organizers and the participants do not rule out that the work may be extended if necessary.
Seven delegations in total will attend the talks - the government and the opposition of Syria, Russia, Turkey and Iran, a team of United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan George Krol as an observer.
The Russian delegation is headed by Russia's special presidential envoy on the Syria settlement Alexander Lavrentiev, Iran - Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Turkey - Deputy Undersecretary for the Middle East and Africa at the Foreign Ministry of Turkey Sedat Onal. Permanent Representative of the Syria to the United Nations Bashar Jaafar will head the delegation of the Syrian government.
The opposition is represented by groups operating primarily in the north and center of the country, partly in the south. In total, the delegation includes representatives of 12 groups, five of which are parties to the agreement of December 29.
The main aim of the negotiations in Astana is to confirm agreements on truce and a political settlement in Syria. Adoption of a joint final document is expected at the end of the negotiations. The format of negotiations remains unknown. After the opening work will continue behind closed doors.
Although the negotiations formally open on Monday, the meeting was preceded on Sunday by consultations between Russia, Iran and Turkey that lasted for more than five hours. Apart from that, the Russian delegation met with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura. Work continues on a final statement to be offered to the Syrian government and the opposition. The United Nations-brokered consultations in Geneva are scheduled to be launched on February 8.