Fresh Syria talks set for July 4-5 in Astana

The last Geneva talks ended on May 19 after four days without making any real progress.

Published: 20th June 2017 02:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2017 02:13 AM   |  A+A-

This undated frame grab from video posted online Monday, May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. (AP)


MOSCOW: The next round of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana has been scheduled for July 4-5, both Russia and Kazakhstan said Monday.

"According to the latest information, the meeting on Syria in Astana is currently set for July 4 and 5," the Russian foreign ministry said Monday evening, Ria Novosti reported.

Earlier the Kazakh foreign ministry had issued a statement announcing the dates and saying "the participants plan to discuss the situation in Syria, the process of abiding by agreements reached during previous rounds of talks in Astana, including the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria."

A source in Geneva close to the negotiations also confirmed to AFP that the Astana talks would take place on July 4-5 but that the Geneva talks on Syria would start on July 10.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Beijing that the UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura -- who announced the date for the Geneva round on Saturday -- would take part in the Russian-backed talks.

A new round of Astana talks had been scheduled for June but was indefinitely postponed as key players wrangled over the future of fragile safe zones agreed for Syria in May.

Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the war, and Turkey, a supporter of rebel forces, signed an agreement on May 4 on setting up four safe zones.

Lavrov on Monday said these zones "are one of the possible options to move forward together".

Moscow has spearheaded the Astana talks since the start of the year as it tries to turn its game-changing military intervention on the ground into a negotiated settlement. 

The tense negotiations -- seen as a complement to the broader UN-backed talks in Geneva -- have involved armed rebels and Syrian government officials and have focused mainly on military issues. 

The last Geneva talks ended on May 19 after four days without making any real progress.

The six-year Syrian conflict has killed more than 320,000 people and seen nearly two thirds of Syrians forced from their homes.

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