The 17th round of Astana talks on Syria kicked off in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan on Tuesday with the attendance of representatives of the guarantor countries; Turkey, Russia, and Iran.
The two-day talks will focus on the current situation in Syria, the delivery of humanitarian aid, the resumption of the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, the exchange of prisoners, the release of hostages, and the search for missing persons.
Ambassador Selcuk Unal, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s director-general responsible for Syria, represents on behalf of Ankara at the meetings.
Russia is represented by Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev while Iran is represented by Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior advisor to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Assad regime joined the meeting with a delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Susan. Meanwhile, the opposition delegation is headed by Ahmad Tuma.
Also taking part in the meetings is UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen and delegations from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan with observer status.
The Russian delegation will primarily focus on the situation on the ground and the provision of a cease-fire, Lavrentiev told reporters before the meeting.
The Russian envoy said Moscow will prioritize the Daesh/ISIS issue in bilateral and tripartite meetings. He also highlighted the importance of advancing the political process in Syria to overcome the refugee problem, the release of detainees, and the humanitarian crisis.
So far, 16 meetings have been held within the Astana format, two of them in the Russian resort of Sochi.