New high-level Astana Syria peace talks soon: Russia

Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry says preparations are being made by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, as well as the Syrian government and opposition, for a next round of high-level conflict resolution talks in Kazakhstan’s Astana.
The ministry made the announcement in a statement published on its website on Saturday. It said observers Jordan, the United States, and the United Nations (UN) were also involved in the preparations.
While the statement did not offer a specific date for the next round of the talks, they are expected in the last week of August, according to previous announcements.
Astana has hosted five rounds of peace talks for Syria since January. Russia, Iran, and Turkey serve as guarantor states in the peace process. The negotiations are aimed at bringing an end to the foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which began in March 2011.
The Astana talks have so far resulted in an agreement on four de-escalation zones across Syria.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said three of the enclaves had been created to date, in the country’s sprawling central province of Homs, in the Eastern Ghouta area of the southern Rif Dimashq Province, and a southwestern militant-controlled stretch along the border with Jordan.
The upcoming talks, the Russian ministry said, aim to facilitate the creation of the fourth zone, in the western Syrian Idlib Province, where significant concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, most notably from al-Nusra Front, are operating.—Agencies

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