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New Round Of Syrian Peace Talks Starts In Astana

RFE/RL October 30, 2017

A seventh round of Syrian peace talks has started in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said all participants for the talks had arrived on October 30 for two days of bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Two separate series of peace talks are being conducted in an attempt to end the six-year civil war in Syria. Along with the Astana talks, United Nations-sponsored negotiations are held in Geneva in search of an overall political solution.

The Astana talks -- sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey – focus on cease-fire and other battlefield matters.

Representatives of the Syrian government and some rebel groups attend the sessions, and the United States, the United Nations, and Jordan generally send observers.

De-Escalation Zones

Russia and Iran back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States and Turkey support differing rebel groups.

A key issue in recent talks has been the establishment, organization, and coordination of at least four de-escalation zones in Syria.

Reports have said the sponsors could call for a six-month cessation of hostilities between government and rebel forces.

Any cease-fire would not apply to the battle to defeat Islamic State (IS) extremists holding out in the country, officials have said.

Al-Jazeera cited sources as saying the meeting will also discuss the release of hostages and prisoners, delivery of food and aid to besieged areas, the return of dead bodies, and the search for missing persons.

On October 26, the UN's Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, announced his intention to convene the next round of separate negotiations in Geneva on November 28, the eighth round of talks since early last year.

With reporting by TASS, Al-Jazeera, and Anadolu

Source: e-escalation-zones/28823474.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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