Iran, Russia and Turkey have started talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on the ceasefire in Syria weeks after the trio mediated peace negotiations between Damascus and opposition groups there.
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that experts from the three countries and the United Nations are holding a technical meeting behind closed doors on the implementation of the truce, which came into effect across Syria late last year.
Reuters quoted a ministry official as saying that the agenda included reviewing the implementation of the cessation of hostilities, discussing a proposal from the Syrian armed opposition about the ceasefire, and determining options about how to implement it.
“This is about creating a mechanism to control the implementation of the ceasefire,” said the source, adding that “representatives of Jordan are expected to take part for the first time.”
In January, Astana hosted two days of talks between Damascus and opposition groups, with Iran, Russia and Turkey attending the event as mediators.
The nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey with the support of Iran in December 2016, is the extended version of an earlier truce that ended years of fighting in Aleppo and put the strategic city back under Damascus control.
Syria’s warring sides will resume their talks in the Swiss city of Geneva on February 20. The upcoming negotiations will be held under United Nations auspices.
On Sunday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lauded the Astana talks as a “breakthrough step.”
He said Moscow supports the Geneva talks, adding, however, that “we are not planning to replace Geneva with the Astana format.”
The Geneva talks were originally planned to take place on February 8, but the United Nations Syria envoy Staffan di Mistura said he had rescheduled them to take further advantage of the fruits of the Astana discussions.