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Expert says Syria talks in Astana have important psychological effect

From the practical point of view, the meeting is only a first step in a long settlement process, a Russian expert said

MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. The talks between the Syrian government and the armed opposition in the Kazakh capital of Astana are important from the psychological point of view, but they are only a first step in a long settlement process, a Russian expert told TASS after the talks ended on Tuesday.

"The meeting in Astana has become a positive and important step from the point of view of its psychological effect," said Boris Dolgov, a senior researcher at the Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies at Russia’s Academy of Sciences. "From the practical point of view, it is just the beginning of the process, and it is yet unclear how this process would develop."

"The very fact of holding a conference, which for the first time involved representatives of the Syrian government and the Syrian armed opposition, makes it an important event, it is another step toward finding ways to solve the Syrian crisis," the expert added.

Problem of representation

Dolgov said that only a small share of Syrian armed groups took part in the Astana talks.

"The armed groups that took part in the Astana talks make up only a small part of the armed opposition active in Syria. According to the Syrian side, up to a thousand of such groups were active in the country, some of them had several dozens of members, while others had dozens of thousands. The meeting in Astana featured a small part of these armed groups, controlled - and this is vital - by Turkey," he said.

He estimated the overall result of the meeting as "modest."

"The talks were conducted via mediators and it is too early to speak of any practical agreement," he said.

Joint monitoring center

During the talks, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to set up a three-party mechanism to monitor ceasefire and prevent provocations, the countries said in a joint communique.

"The work of the joint monitoring center will focus on monitoring the ceasefire regime and documenting violations," the Russian expert said. "It should be understood that the center will not be able to somehow influence the observance or non-observance of the ceasefire, they will only record facts and report to their respective countries."