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Kazakhstan says direct talks between Syrian government, opposition under consideration

February 16, 2017, 8:12 UTC+3

Nine opposition groups are represented at Astana talks, according to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry

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ASTANA, February 16. /TASS/. The possibility of arranging direct talks between Damascus and the Syrian opposition is under consideration, Director of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asian and African Affairs Aidarbek Tumatov said on Thursday.

"All the possible options are under consideration," he said. "No decision on direct talks has been made yet, we are still waiting for the results."

"The opposition delegation is headed by Mohammed Alloush, political leader of the Jaysh al-Islam group. Nine opposition groups are represented in total," the Kazakh diplomat added.

Ceasefire monitoring

Participants in the international Astana meeting on settling the Syrian crisis are considering the possibility of setting up an operational group for monitoring the ceasefire, the Kazakh diplomat said.

"The possibility of setting up an operational group that will monitor the ceasefire is under consideration," he said adding that the parties were also considering a draft final statement.

"At the same time, issues related to specific settlements’ joining the ceasefire are also being discussed, which is very important. This is the essence of the Astana process - the more locations join the ceasefire the better conditions for solving the Syrian crisis," the Kazakh diplomat added.

Specific decision

Participants in the international meeting on settling the Syrian crisis in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana plan to complete talks on February 16 and take a specific decision, according to Tumatov. 

"I believe, the parties will do their best to complete talks today and come up with some specific decision," he said.

According to the Kazakh diplomat, on the first day, the parties discussed the Syrian ceasefire. "This is one of the main issues that the Astana process participants focus on. The Astana meetings provide an opportunity to discuss practical matters while the political aspects of solving the Syrian conflict are considered at the Geneva talks," Tumatov elaborated.

On February 15, participants in the international Astana meeting on Syria held preparatory consultations ahead of the February 16 meeting. The ways to monitor the ceasefire and the prospects of the intra-Syrian consultations in Geneva, due later in the month, topped the agenda. The delegations of the Syrian government and the armed opposition, representatives of the three ceasefire guarantors (Russia, Iran and Turkey), as well as of Jordan, the US and the United Nations, are taking part in the meeting.

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