The 16th meeting of the Astana process ends as commitment to cooperation in the Syria file is reiterated

The guarantor states of Turkey, Russia and Iran reiterated the importance of fighting terrorists and the need for a political solution to end the Syrian conflict.

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The 16th round of the Astana talks, which began on Wednesday, ended on Thursday following bilateral and trilateral meetings in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan. The Turkish delegation was represented by the Foreign Ministry’s director-general responsible for Syria, Ambassador Selçuk Ünal. Elsewhere, Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev led the Russian delegation while Iran was represented by a senior adviser to the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Asghar Khaji.

The Assad regime joined the meeting with a delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Susan and the opposition with a delegation headed by Ahmad Tuma. UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, also attended meetings along with high-level representatives from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan joining with observer status.

Talks centered on the situation on the ground in Syria, socioeconomic and sanitary issues, international humanitarian assistance, prospects for the resumption of work by the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, and confidence-building measures including prisoner exchanges, the release of hostages and the search for missing persons.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran pledged to maintain cooperation in Syria to decisively defeat Daesh/ISIS and other terrorists. According to an official statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, parties underlined the need to increase the volume of humanitarian aid, rejected separatist agendas that threaten the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and reaffirmed their commitment to advance the process of reaching a political solution alongside maintaining calm in Idlib. Delegates condemned attacks against civilians and civilian facilities and called on the international community and the UN to action.

The Astana peace process was initially launched in January 2017 at the initiative of Turkey, Russia, and Iran, to end the conflict in Syria. The process is aimed at supporting the United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Geneva by facilitating talks on the constitutional system, political transition, security and resettlement.

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