By Kamila Aliyeva
Moscow hopes that the upcoming Astana meeting on Syria will be a great help for the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
"On March 14-15, an international meeting on Syria is planned in Astana with the participation of representatives of the Syrian government and armed opposition groups that supported the ceasefire,” she said in a briefing on March 10, RIA Novosti reported.
“In general, we are satisfied with the way the Astana process is going on, the driving force of which is the trio of guarantors of ceasefire regime - Russia, Turkey and Iran,” she said, further adding that Russia believes a new meeting in Astana will be a great help for the fifth round of intra-Syrian negotiations under UN auspices in Geneva scheduled for March 23.
The recent round of talks in Geneva that was supposed to discuss political solution to Syrian conflict ended with no tangible result as it was turned into a polemic between UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and the Syrian opposition, and then between de Mistura and the Syrian regime’s delegation.
Two rounds of high-level international talks on Syria were held on January 23-24 and February 15-16, while on February 6, a technical meeting of experts took place in Astana. The meetings resulted in an agreement on establishing a joint group on monitoring the Syrian ceasefire that laid groundwork for political discussions during the Geneva talks in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
Many experts assessed the agreement between Russia, Turkey, and Iran on the establishment of a tripartite mechanism as a step to a political solution which might end the six-year war.
Armed conflict continues in Syria since March 2011. Government troops are confronted by militants of different armed rebel groups. Russia has begun airstrikes on terrorist facilities in Syria since 30 September 2015. The Russian military involvement follows an official request from President Bashar Assad to President Vladimir Putin.
The UN has repeatedly tried and failed to end the Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 and displaced 11 million since it began five years ago.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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