ASTANA, October 30. /TASS/. The seventh round of negotiations on Syria kicks off in Astana on Monday, the de-escalation zones and humanitarian issues will top the agenda.
Bilateral and trilateral expert consultations will be held on Monday, while a plenary meeting is scheduled for October 31. The Russian delegation at the talks is led by Presidential Envoy for the Syrian Settlement Alexander Lavrentyev, Iranian - by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Ansari and the Turkish - by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Sedat Onal.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield and the Jordanian delegation are taking part in the meeting as observers. The Syrian government is represented by Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari.
On the negotiating table
The previous round held on September 14-15 turned out to be very productive. The Syrian ceasefire guarantor countries, specifically, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, reached an agreement on the fourth de-escalation zone in Idlib. Four documents were adopted: the mandate for the deployment of the de-escalation control forces, the rules for the operation of checkpoints and observation posts in safety zones and the setting up of the Russian-Iranian-Turkish de-escalation coordination center.
Monitoring in the Idlib area will be conducted by all the guarantor countries.
"The Astana process has just completed the process of setting up the de-escalation zones. A lot is yet to be done to make sure that the process becomes irreversible, that the agreements that have been reached grow into something more significant for Syria’s future," Alexander Lavrentyev noted.
During the upcoming round, its participants plan to endorse the regulations on the working group on releasing hostages, prisoners, transferring the bodies of those who lost their lives and searching for the missing individuals. The parties are also expected to discuss efforts to combat international terrorism and adopt a joint statement on humanitarian demining in Syria.
From Astana to Geneva
The Astana meeting will pass the baton to the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, which will begin on November 28. According to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, the emphasis will be placed on two key issues, that is, preparations for the next elections under UN supervision and the drafting of the new Syrian Constitution.
Referring to Astana, the envoy noted that the biggest challenge to the process is ensuring a ceasefire in Syria, normalizing the situation in the de-escalation zones where there is still no full humanitarian access and progress in prisoner exchange and demining efforts.
During his talks with de Mistura in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov highlighted the importance of intensifying the political process amid the approaching final victory over terrorism in Syria.