- Title: Syrian talks in Astana get underway, ceasefire a key priority
- Date: 23rd January 2017
- Summary: ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (JANUARY 23, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RIXOS HOTEL IN ASTANA, VENUE FOR TALKS FLAGS SECURITY GUARDS VARIOUS OF CONVOY ARRIVING SIGN FOR HOTEL ON SIDE OF BUILDING ENTRANCE OF HOTEL KAZAKHSTAN FLAG ON TOP OF BUILDING
- Embargoed: 6th February 2017 08:31
- Keywords: Kazakhstan Syria Mideast crisis negotiations arrivals start Kazakh Foreign Minister
- Location: ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN
- City: ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN
- Country: Kazakhstan
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA00160AUIPZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Syria's warring sides are meeting in Kazakhstan's capital on Monday (January 23) with Russia, Turkey and Iran, sponsors of the talks, trying to make progress towards a goal others have repeatedly failed to reach: an end to the six-year-old conflict.
The talks are the first time the opposition and representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have come together since United Nations-brokered negotiations in Geneva were suspended early last year.
Opening the talks, Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairan Abdrakhmanov read the address to the talks' participants be the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
"Today's meeting is a clear manifestation of the international community's efforts directed to peaceful settlement of the situation in Syria. Kazakhstan believes that the only way to find the solution to the Syrian crisis is through negotiations based on mutual trust and understanding," the address said.
But the talks are already experiencing a set back with the Syrian opposition delegation saying it would only discuss ways to salvage a fragile Russian-Turkish ceasefire it sees as having been violated chiefly by Iranian-backed militias in Syria.
The Syrian government considers most of the rebel groups attending the conference to be foreign-backed "terrorists", but says it is ready to engage in talks with armed groups that surrender their arms and enter reconciliation deals.
Mainstream rebel groups under the banner of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) have rejected these terms, saying their goal is to end President Bashar al Assad's rule through a U.N. backed political transition process.
Yahya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation, said the group would not enter any political discussion, instead concentrating on the ceasefire and humanitarian issues.
The delegation, which faced enormous pressure from regional backer Turkey to attend the talks branded a sellout by other rebel groups, was meeting round the clock to decide whether to attend the opening session, where it would be in the same room as Syrian government representatives.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None